Police Officer Dennis Guerra died of injuries sustained while responding to the fire. Credit: NYPD
The teenager accused of setting the high-rise fire in Coney Island that killed a police officer last month was arraigned in Brooklyn on Thursday.
Marcell Dockery, 16, appeared before a judge at the Brooklyn courthouse to plead not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, which were upgraded after Officer Dennis Guerra died as a result of injuries sustained while responding to the blaze.
If convicted on the murder charge, Dockery faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Guerra, 38, died after three days of treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning and severe smoke inhalation resulting from what investigators said was Dockery setting a mattress ablaze in the 13th floor hallway of a Coney Island building.
Guerra's partner, Rosa Rodriguez, remains in critical but stable condition at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center for similar injuries.
After the hearing, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch issued a statement that Dockery disregarded his neighbors' and the officers' safety when he allegedly lit the mattress on fire.
"His indifference to the well being of others makes him a danger to society, and he must be held accountable for his criminal actions and punished for the irreversible loss to the families of these two police officers," Lynch said.
An attorney for Dockery told reporters at the courthouse that reports of his client confessing to the crime by saying he was bored were in accurate.