January 27, 2023

Convicted arsonist Jamison Gallion looks back at the gallery as he exits the courtroom of his sentencing hearing on January 23, 2023. (Dan Bross/KUAC)

A sentencing hearing began Monday for a teenager who pleaded guilty to arson attacks in the summer of 2021 in the Pleasant Valley Two Rivers area, east of Fairbanks.

The hearing was an opportunity for fire victims to speak directly to 19-year-old Jamison Gallion before a judge who will decide how long he will serve in prison.

Gallion is convicted of felonies including arson, burglary, criminal mischief and terrorist threat in connection with seven building fires, including two homes and Two Rivers Lodge, which were occupied when he started the fires in the summer of 2021.

Judge Paul Lyle presided over a packed courtroom on the first day of sentencing as several victims spoke out about arson and casualties. Ginger McKee shared photos of her multi-building property before and after the fire.

“This is my home that Jamison Gallion set on fire on July 3, 2021,” McKee said. “Six people in those buildings were asleep at 2 a.m. when he came to our house and set it on fire, and I believe firmly in my heart that he intended us to die in that fire.”

All escaped, but two homes and a large commercial building were destroyed, along with property owned by the McKee family and tenant Margaret Okinghouse.

Okinghouse, a retired teacher, says the attack changed her life.

“I’m learning the meaning of words I never dreamed would be applied to me: victim, survivor, homeless, destitute, post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few,” she said.

Okinghouse described Gallion as evil.

“I would fear for the safety of members of any community you live in,” she said. “You are a threat to society. It would make me very happy if you spent the rest of your life in prison.”

Two of the fires Gallion admitted destroyed and damaged Pleasant Valley Community Association buildings. The association also received anonymous letters from Gallion claiming responsibility for the attacks and making veiled threats.

Lyle referenced receiving an apology for Gallion’s victims earlier this month, but it remains unclear what motivated the attacks and why the Pleasant Valley Two Rivers area was attacked.

Bob Sugden, a charter member of the community association, approached Gallion directly in court.

“Bottom line, sir, you’ve been terrorizing our community,” Sugden said. “They have physically changed the culture of our community. It’s not the same community I joined 20 years ago and it will likely never return to the life we ​​had. All because you were feeling stressed and needed to calm down?”

Gallion appeared shaken by the victims’ testimonies during the sentencing hearing, which is set to resume Wednesday afternoon. Lyle said he expects to sentence Gallion on Thursday.

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