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Maine boy gets three years in fire case involving classmates

BAR HARBOR, Maine -- An Otis boy who set fire to a classmate's Halloween costume during a school assembly was sentenced to three years under the custody of the Maine Department of Corrections by a judge who described the decision as his most difficult on the bench.

Lucas White, who turned 16 days ago, will complete his sentence when he is 19 years old. The longest sentence he could have faced as a juvenile was incarceration at a youth detention facility until age 21.

In February, White pleaded guilty to elevated aggravated assault for holding a cigarette lighter to a military sniper costume worn by Donald Awalt during a "Spook Day" assembly at Ellsworth High School. So many people testified at White's sentencing in Bar Harbor last week that the hearing was continued until Thursday.

Calling it the most difficult case he has dealt with in his 16 years, Judge Bernard Staples said he had to balance White's rehabilitation needs with the need to punish him and to protect the public.

Awalt, 15, of Ellsworth, suffered serious burns to his legs and back on Oct. 30 when his military sniper costume featuring dried leaves went up in flames as horrified classmates watched.

As part of his sentence, White will probably serve eight to nine months behind bars at Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston, prosecutor Mary Kellett said after the sentencing.

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