Denver teen gets 40-year sentence in deadly house fire set over stolen cellphone – WPXI

Denver Teen Sentenced to 40 Years for Fatal House Fire Sparked by Stolen Cellphone Dispute

In Denver, a tragic event unfolded when a Colorado teenager received a 40-year prison sentence on Friday. This sentence was for his involvement in a devastating house fire in 2020, which resulted in the loss of five lives from a Senegalese family, including two young children.

Gavin Seymour, a 19-year-old from Denver, admitted his guilt in January for this heart-wrenching crime. Authorities have linked the origins of this tragedy to a stolen cellphone. The fire claimed the lives of 29-year-old Djibril Diol, his 23-year-old wife, Adja Diol, and their 3-year-old daughter, Khadija.

Also among the victims were Djibril Diol’s sister, Hassan Diol, aged 25, and her infant daughter, Hawa Baye.

The investigation revealed that Seymour, along with his friend Kevin Bui and another accomplice, Dillion Siebert, were misled by a cellphone tracking app. The app mistakenly identified the Diol family’s residence as the location of Bui’s stolen phone. However, the Diol family had no connection to the theft or the stolen item.

Under the cover of darkness and with their identities concealed by masks, the teenagers approached the house around 2:30 a.m. on August 5, 2020. They used gasoline to ignite the deadly blaze. Bui later discovered from news reports that the individuals he had accused were not responsible for the theft.

Initially, Seymour faced several charges, including multiple counts of first-degree murder. However, a guilty plea in January led to a reduction in charges to one count of second-degree murder.

The court had the option to sentence him to anywhere between 16 and 40 years. Denver District Court Judge Karen Brody opted for the maximum sentence allowed by law, highlighting the incomprehensible nature of the tragedy and the loss of innocent lives.

Amadou Beye, who lost his wife Hassan Diol and daughter Hawa Baye in the fire, expressed his dissatisfaction with the sentencing in January. He suggested that racial biases influenced the leniency of the sentence, pointing out the disparity in justice when race is a factor.

At the time of the crime, Seymour and Bui, the latter being labeled as the mastermind behind the arson, were 16 years old and were charged as adults. Bui is awaiting trial and faces 28 felony charges, including multiple counts of first-degree murder.

Siebert, who was 14 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. In February 2023, he was sentenced to three years in a juvenile facility followed by seven years in a program for young offenders. Violating the terms of his sentence could result in up to 23 years in prison.

During Siebert’s sentencing, Beye shared the profound impact of the tragedy on his life, including daily thoughts of suicide and the need for medication to sleep. Beye, who was in Senegal at the time of the fire, had sent his pregnant wife to the U.S. ahead of him with plans to follow. Tragically, his daughter died before he had the chance to meet her.

“My life doesn’t make sense anymore,” Beye lamented in court, questioning the loss of his wife and daughter.