Topaz teen admits setting friend on fire
MINDEN – A 14-year-old Topaz teenager admitted Tuesday he set a classmate on fire Jan. 15.
Joshua Thomas-Bryant entered a guilty plea Tuesday to a charge of reckless endangerment causing substantial bodily harm. He faces a May 11 sentencing hearing.
Ky Nielsen was burned as he, Thomas-Bryant and a group of juveniles siphoned gas from a truck at a Topaz Ranch farm. Thomas-Bryant was arrested Jan. 21 after authorities learned he ignited the gasoline while Nielsen was siphoning the tank.
Nielsen received second- and third-degree burns on his body. He was first taken to Carson Valley Medical Center and then flown to Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento. He and his mother, Debi, continue to travel to the hospital once a week for follow-up treatment.
Thomas-Bryant had been in detention for more than a week for smoking marijuana and cutting class, and Douglas County District Judge Dave Gamble placed him on house arrest under his grandfather’s custody on Tuesday.
He told Gamble that by admitting to the charge he was “taking responsibility for his actions.”
Thomas-Bryant faces a sentence at China Spring Regional Youth Camp in Douglas County or the Nevada Youth Facility in Elko at his next hearing scheduled for May 11.
The boy denied hiding a phone in the house to prevent anyone calling for help after Nielsen was burned.
He didn’t call for help, he told the judge, because “Ky at first said not to.” Thomas-Bryant said he was told to call Nielsen’s mother at work.
Gamble told Thomas-Bryant if he misses one class at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School he will be put back in detention. Thomas-Bryant’s grandfather said he would “absolutely” report the first skipped class.
“(It) will be an indication of how serious he’s been taking this,” Gamble said.
Gamble said “every time” he tries to do something for Thomas-Bryant to ensure his safety and continual schooling, “he’s messed it up.”
Gamble asked that each of Thomas-Bryant’s teachers be made aware that the boy is not to miss a class.
Previously, only the principal knew.
Contact Maggie O’Neill at mo’email@example.com or (775) 782-5121, ext. 214.