Man sentenced to 60 years for house fire that killed Senegalese family of 5 in robbery revenge plot gone wrong

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A Colorado man was sentenced to 60 years in prison for setting a house fire that killed a family of five Senegalese immigrants in a robbery revenge plot gone wrong.

Kevin Bui, now 20 and the alleged ringleader of the scheme, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in a plea deal. Sixty other charges, including first-degree murder, were dropped by prosecutors as part of the deal. 

Bui told investigators he was robbed the month before the fire while he was attempting to purchase a gun. He said he traced his iPhone to the home using an app, according to court records. He admitted to setting the fire and said he found out the next day through news reports that the victims were not the people who robbed him, police said.

The fire was an apparent revenge plot for the stolen cellphone mistakenly traced to the home.

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Djibril Diol, 29; his 23-year-old wife, Adja Diol; their 22-month-old daughter, Khadija; and Djibril Diol’s sister, Hassan Diol, 25, and her 7-month-old daughter, Hawa, were all killed in the fire.

Through an interpreter, Hamady Diol, the father of Djibril and Hassan Diol, addressed the court via phone from Senegal. He described how he needs pills to sleep after the loss of his loved ones.

“I’m a dead person that’s not buried yet,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Hassan’s husband, Amadou Beye, was still in Senegal at the time of the fire, working to get his visa so he could join his family in the U.S.

In court, Beye called Bui a “big terrorist” who did not deserve to eat, sleep or talk to his family while in prison. He turned to Bui to address him directly, saying, “We can’t be normal because of you.”

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Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said she hopes Bui’s sentence will bring some comfort to the family and friends. 

“As the ringleader of this deeply disturbing and utterly senseless crime, Kevin Bui deserved exactly what he received today: the longest sentence of the three defendants in the case. Were it not for his actions, five completely innocent victims would still be alive today. It is my hope that his sentence will bring some measure of comfort and a sense of justice to the victims’ families and friends,” McCann said.

Bui addressed the court, saying he was an “ignorant knucklehead” at the time of the fire. He pushed back on the idea he was a monster or a terrorist, saying, “My heart beats the same as yours.”

“I have no excuses and nobody to blame but myself,” he added.

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Bui’s lawyer said he did not set the fire himself, pinning the blame on the youngest of the group of three friends charged in the case. Police disputed that, saying Bui confessed to starting it himself and was burned in the process, according to The Associated Press.

Bui is the last defendant to be sentenced in the case.

Gavin Seymour, now 19 years old, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Dillon Siebert, 14 at the time of the fire, was sentenced to three years in juvenile detention and seven years in a state prison program for young inmates.

“If I could go back and prevent all this, I would,” Seymour previously said. “There is not a moment that goes by that I don’t feel extreme guilt and remorse for my actions. … I want to say how truly sorry I am to the family members and community for all the harm I’ve done.”

Surveillance video showed three suspects wearing full face masks and dark hoodies outside the home just before the fire started Aug. 5, 2020.

Police used a controversial strategy, asking Google to reveal which IP addresses had searched for the home’s address within 15 days of the fire. Eventually, they were able to identify Bui, Seymour and Siebert as suspects.

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In October, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld the search of Google users’ keyword history, an approach critics have called a digital dragnet that threatens to undermine people’s privacy and their constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The court cautioned it was not making a “broad proclamation” on the constitutionality of such search warrants and emphasized it was ruling on the facts of this one case.

Fox News Digital’s Landon Mion and The Associated Press contributed to this report.