Attorney for Teen Accused of Skirt Fire Calls Incident Prank

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The defense attorney for a 16-year-old accused of setting high school senior Sasha Fleishman on fire on an AC Transit bus is calling the incident a childish prank. Jodi Hernandez reports.

    A childish prank. That is how the defense attorney for the teen accused of setting Sasha Fleishman's skirt on fire is now describing the incident.

    The 16-year-old Oakland boy accused of lighting another teenager on fire was in court Friday.

    Richard Thomas is being charged as an adult, with a hate crime enhancement. He's accused of setting 18 year old Sasha Fleischman's skirt on fire, while the teen slept on an AC Transit bus in Oakland.

    Thomas' lawyer William DuBois said the incident was not a crime, but instead a prank.

    "With every fiber in his body he is sorry with every ounce of energy he has he wants to apologize," DuBois said.

    DuBois said it was a prank and not a hate crime. The incident was captured on the bus's surveillance video.

    NBC Bay Area watched the video Friday, but was not allowed to show it on television or on line. It shows the suspect using a lighter to set Sasha's long flowing skirt on fire then darting out the bus door.

    The victim then tries desperately to put the flames out running up and down the bus aisle until some passengers step in to help.

    DuBois admits the video clearly shows the incident, but he says it wasn't a hate crime.

    "As a matter of fact he doesn't even know how to spell homophobic let alone be homophobic. There are members of his family who are gay he has absolutely not a homophobic bone in his body," DuBois said.