An adult friend of the San Marcos girl who prosecutors say deliberately set the massive Cocos Fire in May describes the teenage suspect as “good-hearted, helpful, and encouraging,” and told NBC 7 she is in “shock and disbelief” about the allegations.
“It’s almost like hearing that someone you know has terminal cancer,” said the suspect’s friend. The two know each other from the Southern California competitive bicycling community.
A San Diego Juvenile Court judge has ordered a mental competency evaluation for the teenager who faces four felony arson charges and one misdemeanor charge in connection with the destructive wildfire that burned close to 40 homes and more than 1,995 acres.
It is NBC 7's policy not to identify minors charged with a crime.
The suspect’s adult friend told NBC 7 she has known the girl for most of her young life. This source spoke with NBC 7 on the condition of anonymity.
“I can’t see that evil side,” the friend responded, when told about the charges filed against the San Marcos girl.
“She is always smiling, she listens well. She was always inspired and achieved her goals. I never said to myself, ‘That girl’s going to be a trouble maker.’”
The friend added: “I never saw an evil bone in her body. She is always very helpful, and she smiles a lot.”
The friend did note that the young suspect is “transitioning from being a kid, to being an adolescent” and could be experiencing problems related to that maturing and growing process.
She confirmed that the suspect is being raised by adoptive parents and could perhaps be facing “too much pressure from her family to win. But that’s just speculation.”
The friend also speculated that the suspect might be “internalizing anger or resentment."
But this source stressed the positives of the young suspect’s personality, and said she “has such a huge future.”
The accused minor is not allowed to leave her home without her parents and must adhere to a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.
She was expected to return to Juvenile Court on August 20 for the next scheduled court hearing.