A young man who was prosecuted by the Cochise County Attorney’s Office as an adult for an arson committed when he was 15-years-old has lost his most recent challenge to the conviction.
Hayden Beaulieu, now 22, has contended in multiple petitions for post-conviction relief that the state law which allows a county attorney to prosecute children as adults is unconstitutional. He has also claimed to have received ineffective assistance of counsel and that he was unjustly sentenced to prison in September 2019, nearly four years after the fire.
In a Dec. 9 decision, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled against Beaulieu, finding that Judge James Conlogue of the Cochise County Superior Court did not err in rejecting the Beaulieu’s most recent petition. The unanimous appellate decision also notes that Conlogue’s decision to send Beaulieu to prison was justified.
“We will not disturb a trial court’s ruling on a petition for post-conviction relief absent a clear abuse of discretion,” the decision reads. “In this case, (Beaulieu) was sentenced to imprisonment as a result of his failure to comply with the terms of his probation, not on any arbitrary basis.”
Public records show that Beaulieu was arrested by the Sierra Vista Police Department in November 2015 in connection to three fires set inside the house of his foster parents. No one was injured during the fires, which burned while the family was sleeping.
Beaulieu had lived with the family for about two months but was not at the home when officers arrived.
Charges were initially filed against Beaulieu in juvenile court, but County Attorney Brian McIntyre later took the matter to a county grand jury which indicted the 15-year-old on seven felonies including arson, aggravated assault, and endangerment.
Beaulieu pleaded guilty in March 2016 to one count of attempted arson and was sentenced to a five-year term of supervised probation in lieu of prison time. But over the next few years he Beaulieu was the subject of two petitions for revocation of probation, and last year Conlogue imposed a 2.5-year term in state prison on the original charge.
Public records show Beaulieu was released from prison in December 2019 and is now living in California. He has become an advocate for reforming the juvenile justice system.
In an article published in October 2018, Beaulieu wrote that he ran away from home in Washington at age 14 and was later sent by his father to live with relatives in Arizona. He has admitted setting the fires at his foster home, but claimed he was simply burning items connected to his time in Washington.
After his arrest, Beaulieu remained in jail until he was sentenced to probation in June 2016. He claims that during pretrial incarceration he was the victim of sexual assault and physical abuse, according to the article.
Beaulieu became the subject of an arrest warrant in September 2017 after his probation officer petitioned to Conlogue to revoke probation. In June 2018, Beaulieu stood before Conlogue in jail garb on the alleged probation violations. At the end of a September 2018 hearing Beaulieu was released from the county jail and reinstated to probation through November 2025.
Just weeks later Beaulieu was the subject of another nationwide arrest warrant after a second petition to revoke probation was filed with the court. But this time Beaulieu was not booked back into the Cochise County jail until mid-2019.
Conlogue then ordered Beaulieu to serve the 2.5-year prison sentence he originally faced at sentencing in 2016, although he credited Beaulieu for all the time spent in various jails since his November 2015 arrest. This resulted in Beaulieu being released from the Arizona Department of Corrections last December.
In the last few years Beaulieu has become an advocate for juvenile justice and civil rights for minors. In 2019 he was recognized by the City of Oakland as a finalist in the city’s Youth Poet Laureate program.
Federal court records show Beaulieu has initiated federal lawsuits related to his time in custody of the Cochise County jail. Those records were not available as of press time.