Teen Sentenced to Decades in Prison for Fatal Fire That Claimed Lives of 5 Immigrants

On Friday, one of three youths who thought they were torching the house of the persons who had robbed them was sentenced to death for killing five innocent immigrants, including two young children.

A Denver judge sentenced 19-year-old Gavin Seymour to 40 years in jail for the August 5, 2020 fire. Seymour was just 16 years old when he, Kevin Bui, also 16, and then-15-year-old Dillon Siebert sought vengeance on the guys who stole Bui’s phone during a heroin deal, according to investigators.

According to an arrest complaint, the trio eventually concluded that the robbers lived in a home in Denver’s Green Valley Ranch neighborhood. They proceeded to a costume store, bought hockey masks, and broke into the home’s back door with gasoline containers, dousing the walls with the accelerant before setting it on fire and fleeing. The house rapidly caught fire and was destroyed.

A police officer nearby noticed the fire and attempted to smash through the front door, but the smoke and flames were too intense. Three people jumped from a second-story window for safety.

However, five individuals were found dead at the front entrance of the home: Djibril “Jibby” Diol, his 23-year-old wife Adja, and their 21-month-old daughter, Khadija, as well as Diol’s sister Hassan and her 6-month-old daughter, Hawa Beye. They had no involvement in Bui’s robbery.

Police stated they could locate Seymour, Bui, and Siebert at the scene using their cell phones. The offenders were also caught on tape purchasing the masks from the store, according to investigators. Police arrested the three in January 2021 on dozens of charges, including first-degree murder and arson.

Prosecutors brought 60 accusations against Seymour. In January, he pled guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining 59 charges and an agreed-upon sentence range of 16 to 40 years.

Local NBC affiliate KUSA described Friday’s hours-long session as extremely heated, with people on both sides stating their cases.

“You don’t deserve jail – you deserve the death penalty – but since we don’t have that in Colorado – give the maximum,” Hapsa Ba, a member of the family, said.

Hamady Diol, who lost his son, daughter, and grandkids in the fire, attended the hearing from Senegal.

“I am powerless. I’m uneducated — but I know that the individuals you killed couldn’t kill a fly,” he stated through a translator. “The people you murdered were my hope and lifeline. Know that you did not merely kill five people, including myself and their mother. We are still alive, but we are dead.”

Seymour’s tone was regretful.

“I relive August 5th, 2020, every day I wake up,” Seymour stated. “I would like to apologize for my involvement in the arson. I’m constantly filled with remorse. “I wish it was me rather than them.”

His parents say he succumbed to peer pressure but is a decent child.

“This tragedy does not define his soul,” his mother, Stephanie Tyler, explained. “Gavin is not a monster; he made a tragic decision. “He is prepared to atone.”

In the end, Denver District Court Judge Karen Brody sentenced Seymour to as many years in jail as allowed under the plea agreement.

“This is a tragedy that, I’m sure, is incomprehensible to everyone involved,” Brody told the Denver Post. “There was a loss of the most innocent of lives.”

Siebert was sentenced to seven years in juvenile jail, with a 26-year suspended term if he violates his parole, according to KUSA. Bui’s case is still underway and he is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

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