Liberty Township teen who pleaded guilty to trying to kill his parents sentenced to 9 years

'I would do anything to take it back'

HAMILTON, Ohio -- A teenager who set his home on fire in an attempt to kill his parents was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in prison despite pleas from his mom and dad and his attorney.

Mitchell Simon's attorney, Brad Kraemer, and father, Perry, told the judge they feared the 17-year-old honor-roll student would be killed in prison.

"If he just goes straight to an adult prison, my fear is that six months from now we're reading about him in the paper because he didn't make it out," Kraemer said.

"I feel that sending him to jail would definitely not be to his benefit, ending up creating a criminal, probably creating a dead person being violated or whatever else can go bad in prison," Simon's father said.

Sharon Simon told the court and her son that they wanted to continue to follow a program set forth by Simon's psychiatrist.

"It's a very good plan that will help him with his growth and his development," she said.  "You count on us to stick to that plan to gain your trust and to watch you grow and your development."

But Butler County Common Pleas Judge Craig Hedric sent him to prison anyway

"I did not put you in this position, Mr. Simon, you did," said Hedric. "You planned this, Mr. Simon."

Hendric sentenced him to nine years for each of three counts to be served concurrently.

Simon, a junior at Lakota West, was indicted Jan. 22 on attempted murder charges.

He pleaded guilty in court on June 2. He faced up to 33 years in prison, 11 years for each count, for the act that investigators say included blocking his parents' bedroom door and setting their house on fire.

In an emotional plea, Simon told the court Tuesday before his sentencing, "I love my parents dearly. I would do anything to take it back. I want to get help."

He said he was sorry for what he had done.

Kraemer put the teen's psychologist on the stand to testify in his defense.

"I don't think he was trying to kill his parents," his psychologist said. "He was trying to scare them."

He said their parenting style and bullying may have also contributed to his behavior.

RELATED: Liberty Twp. teen who set his home on fire pleads not guilty by reason of insanity
MORE: Liberty Twp. mother supports son accused of plotting to kill her, husband

In February, Simon’s attorney entered a not guilty by reason of insanity plea and questioned whether his client was competent to stand trial.

As a result, Hedric ordered a psychologist to evaluate Simon.

The competency report concluded Simon understood the charges against him and was capable of assisting his attorney in his defense.

In interviews, Liberty Township police say the suspect admitted to his actions.

"By the end of the interview, Mitchell had admitted that his intent that evening was to inflict as much bodily harm on his parents as possible without injuring himself," said Ron Owens, the detective in the case.

Simon's sudden plea took place just before his trial was set to start.

Despite the situation, Sharon Simon still stands by her son's side, saying she just "doesn't believe it."

In a WCPO interview, the 56-year-old woman described her son as a typical teenager, with no history of troubling behavior.

“It’s been very lonely not having Mitchell around,” Sharon Simon said months after she was rescued by Liberty Township fire crews from her home. Perry Simon, 50, jumped from a second-story window to save his own life.

Investigators say a journal they found in the nightstand of Simon’s room depicts how Simon planned to set fire to the home. The journal also highlights the anger the teen had with his parents and himself, according to testimony given during the hearing.

Journal-News says several pages of the journal were shown during the 30-minute hearing. Some writings included, “My parents are judgmental, racist (expletive)," "I hate my parents, they don’t understand me. If only they would stop snooping around,” and “They need to stop controlling my life, I am not a puppet.”

Kraemer said after his client was indicted that he believes the teen’s actions were not specifically to harm his parents and were more a cry for help. He feels the guilty plea will help connect Simon with support and guidance.

"The family was consulted. Mitchell was consulted," Kraemer said. "The family was consulted again and then there was a meeting with all parties and we decided that was the best avenue to take to get him the help he needs."

WCPO originally reported he was sentenced to 27 years without clarifying they would run currently.

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