Home » Teen sentenced to 40 years in prison for Denver house fire that killed 5

Teen sentenced to 40 years in prison for Denver house fire that killed 5

by John Jefferson
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One of three teenagers charged with setting a Denver house on fire and killing five people was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Friday.

Gavin Seymour, 19, pleaded guilty in January to one count of second-degree murder for his role in the Aug. 5, 2020, fire that killed five members of a Senegalese family in an apparent revenge plot for a stolen cellphone mistakenly traced to the home. Denver District Court Judge Karen Brody gave him the maximum sentence allowed, according to The Denver Post.

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

Seymour and two other teenagers – Kevin Bui and Dillon Siebert – were charged after setting fire to the house in the middle of the night, killing Djibril Diol, 29; Adja Diol, 23; Khadija Diol, 1 (previous reporting identified her as 2 years old); Hassan Diol, 25; and 6-month-old Hawa Baye. Three other people escaped by jumping from the second floor of the home.


Siebert, who was 14 at the time of the fire, was 17 when he was sentenced in February 2023 to three years in juvenile detention and seven years in a state prison program for young inmates. Bui, the alleged ringleader, and Seymour were both 16 when the fire was set.

The case against Bui is still pending as he faces multiple counts of first-degree murder.

“Even if you kill five sheep or goats, you should get a maximum sentence,” the victims’ relative Hanady Diol told the court Friday through a translator over the phone from Senegal. “This person here, they are talking about 40 or 30 years. That just means there is no justice there. There is no judging that the people who died are human beings.”

The teenagers were identified as suspects after police obtained a search warrant asking Google for accounts that had searched the home’s address within 15 days of the fire.


People look at a house that was set on fire in Denver

Bui told investigators he had been robbed the month before the fire while he was attempting to purchase a gun and that he had traced his iPhone to the home using an app, according to court records. He admitted to setting the fire but found out the next day through news reports that the victims were not the people who robbed him, police said.

Attorneys for Seymour and Bui challenged the search warrant, but the Colorado Supreme Court upheld the search. Bui is due in court on March 21.

Seymour apologized in court Friday for his role in the house fire.

“If I could go back and prevent all this, I would,” he said. “There is not a moment that goes by that I don’t feel extreme guilt and remorse for my actions … I want to say how truly sorry I am to the family members and community for all the harm I’ve done.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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