Copy-Teen burns down bridge, avoids prison time

WINTERSET, IA (KCCI/CNN) - An Iowa teenager convicted of burning down a bridge won't go to jail.

The judge in the case gave him probation and mandated substance abuse training.

But a state psychologist is concerned about his violent past.

The state gave its best effort Friday to send Alexander Hoff to prison for his involvement in the Cedar Bridge arson.

They showed the judge a video of a December jail fight, where you can see Hoff repeatedly throw punches at another inmate.

The prosecution also played jail calls where you can hear the defendant talk to his friends and family.

"The truth is like, I'm not some criminal mastermind," Hoff said during the conversation.

Most of those calls filled with language too filthy for television.

But it was the psychologists both the state and defense provided, that left more questions than answers.

"I believe that he is at a high risk of ongoing criminal conduct, including potential violence," Veronica Lestinaa, a psychologist, told the court.

"I believe he is not as high risk," Luis Rosell, another psychologist contradicted.

The psychologists and Hoff told the court he has a history of alcohol and opiate abuse and that led him down the dangerous path he was on.

"I would just like to apologize for the pain that I inflicted onto the community with my actions," Hoff said. "It was a selfish reason, why i acted out. I mean it wasn't fair. It wasn't justified. I definitely do regret it."

The judge handed down a suspended sentence, giving Hoff the opportunity to go down a new path.

"He's really shown that he knows that he made a bad choice," said Teresa Pope, an attorney. "He knows that he's got to learn from that choice. He's got to take the right steps, and I think he's doing that."

"I feel like I have more potential to give this world than sitting in a prison cell," Hoff said to the court. "Thank you."

Hoff did not act alone in the bridge burning.

The two other teens involved negotiated plea deals that also kept them out of prison.

It is estimated the bridge will cost $600,000 to fix.

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