Tea Garden trial delayed two weeks

Kenny Lindberg

The arraignment for the 10 individuals charged with starting an illegal campfire near the Tea Gardens was delayed until Tuesday, March 17.

The delay was deemed necessary when three of the defendants did not have legal counsel, and needed adequate time in order to obtain such.

The names of those facing charges are as follows: Mohammed Alessam, Fahad Al-Fadhel, Hope Sjohnet Dunlap, Hashim Ali Hassan, Casey James Lamonte, Natalie Rose Maese, Carver William McLellan, Stephen Reid, Joshua Grant Decker Trinidad and Lauren Elizabeth Vazquez.

None of the 10 have entered pleas yet.

Hope Sjohnet Dunlap is a former member of The Channels from Fall 2008. When asked for an interview, Dunlap declined comment.

It was initially believed by the public that the 10 were responsible for the Tea Fire, which burned 1,940 acres of land and destroyed 210 homes in its path.

However, after a 3-month investigation into the Tea Fire was concluded on Feb. 13, the District Attorney’s office decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the students with starting the blaze.

Instead, the 10 will face misdemeanor charges for trespassing onto private property and unlawfully maintaining a campfire on brush-covered land. Penalties of up to $1,000 or a six-month prison sentence could be imposed if they are convicted.

The arraignment is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday March 17 in Department 18 in the Figueroa Division Courthouse in downtown Santa Barbara.