Bonfire blast suspect appears in Henderson court

Clark County prosecutors could seek a grand jury indictment of a 19-year-old man accused of causing an explosion that severely burned a girl and six of her Basic High School classmates at a bonfire in the desert south of Henderson.

Michael Brandon Boyd Jr., dressed in a red jail scrubs, appeared Wednesday before Henderson Justice of the Peace William Jansen.

Boyd faces 15 charges including mayhem, third-degree arson and acting in reckless regard. Eleven of the charges are felonies; four are gross misdemeanors. If convicted of all counts, he could face up to 89 years in prison.

Jansen ordered Boyd to remain jailed at the Henderson Detention Center on $37,000 bail. Boyd’s lawyer planned to file a motion asking for a lower amount.

After the hearing, defense lawyer Terry Jones declined to discuss the case, saying she needed to review the evidence that prosecutors gave her Wednesday morning.

“We think this a tragic accident,” she said.

The June 9 bonfire was at an abandoned mill site on Bureau of Land Management land in the far southeast valley, about 5 miles south of Henderson.

A group of teenagers gathered on the night of Basic High’s graduation ceremony, but their celebration was interrupted when a man identified by students as “Mikey” rolled a 55-gallon drum of fuel into the fire, authorities said.

The barrel exploded, sending flaming diesel fuel into the air and onto the teenagers. Three were severely injured, including a 16-year-old girl who suffered burns on more than 80 percent of her body.

Boyd told investigators several stories about what happened that night, including that he started the bonfire but another person rolled the fuel drum onto the blaze, according to a police report.

Boyd has had minor run-ins with authorities before. In 2013, he was convicted of misdemeanor battery in Henderson Municipal Court and fined $640, which he paid, court records show.

A preliminary hearing was set for Sept. 18 where prosecutors must show they have enough evidence to take the case to trial. However, prosecutor Binu Palal said during Wednesday’s hearing that the case could soon be presented to a grand jury, which would negate the need for a preliminary hearing.

Contact Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512. Find him on Twitter: @fjmccabe.

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