Jamison Gallion sentencing hearing

Victims of arson took the stand and spoke about their losses.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 10:55 AM AKST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 12:52 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A sentencing hearing for the man found guilty of setting several buildings and homes on fire in the Two Rivers area began on Monday, Jan. 23 at the Rabinowitz Courthouse in Fairbanks.

Jamison Gallion, the man who pled guilty to multiple arsons in the Two Rivers area in 2021, heard from the victims of his attacks during his sentencing trial being presided over by Judge Lyle.

Victims of the arsons took the stand and gave testimony about their losses, their community, and how the fires have affected them since the summer of 2021.

Don and Virginia McKee were the first victims to speak. “On July 3rd, at about 2 a.m. Jamison threatened the lives of six people who were home asleep. The destruction of the buildings says nothing of the tools and equipment that were in the building. Six different trades worth of tools. Tools I made my living with,” said Don McKee.

“When the building blew out, there was nothing else I could do. I walked across the driveway and I just watched it burn. Since it is not up there yet, that was my house. That’s what Jamison Gallion did,” said arson victim, Virginia McKee.

Their home, a mother-in-law rental, and shop, was the 4th arson in a string of fires caused by Gallion.

Don and Virginia spoke about where they were the night of the fire, on July 3rd, 2021, going into detail on how they were able to get out of the home just before … as Virginia stated, The “front blew out of the house.”

They asked the judge to give Gallion the maximum sentence on all charges because of all the property damage Gallion caused.

“This was my home that Jamison Gallion set on fire on July 3, 2021. There were 6 people in these buildings asleep at 2 a.m. When he came to our house and set fire to it I truly believe in my heart that he had every intention for us to die in that fire,” said McKee.

Margaret Oeckinghaus was the next arson victim to speak, “The night of that fire, I’m never gonna forget standing in the dark, in my nightgown, watching my life, Donny and Ginger’s life, and Faith and Devlin’s life go up in flames and I could do nothing about it, absolutely nothing but watch my life go up in flames.”

“You have stolen precious time with my mother from me. Before the fire, I knew I would be making a minimum of two visits a year with her. I had reason to anticipate I had three or four visits with her. Haven’t had the funds to do that. The money is going to my double living expenses and rebuilding expenses. You have taken at least five visits from my mother and me. The pain that this has caused us is deep and it is constant,” said Margaret.

“We had children who had guns pulled on them as they rode 4-wheelers down their own streets. Why? Because a fearful neighbor wanted to know what they were doing near their property, and it was because we walked in fear for more than three months, not knowing who would be next,” said the Facility Manager for the Two Rivers Community Center. Robert Sudgen is also the Pastor of the Two Rivers Church of the Nazarene.

He told Judge Lyle, he was the one who checks the mail each week and was the one who initially received all three letters from Gallion. “I was the one who was made sick, literally physically sick as I read the words that he wrote to us, said Sudgen. “I felt great horror, and I felt so much pain.”

Sudgen also reflected on how terrified he felt lighting a candle in his study to pray, fearful a fire would start.

“The jobs that were lost, the homes that were lost. Our community gathering place is now almost two years in the process of being built. The fear that our community lived in and the neighbor versus neighbor mentality that has been cultivated as folks wondered who was responsible,” read Jolie Ford. Ford represented the owners of the Two Rivers Lodge in a letter. “Was it the next-door neighbor? Was it the guy down the street that doesn’t talk to anyone? The domestic terrorism delivered to the residents of a peaceful and community-oriented neighborhood has caused unmeasurable damage to many people in the form of PTSD and other psychological issues caused by a disturbed young man.”

In closing, Ford read, “Let’s not forget that if he started the fire at the lodge 15 minutes later and the employees were gone for the night, then this would be a murder charge. As our tenant living upstairs was barely roused out of her sleep before the building was completely consumed, the fact that no one was killed during his reign of terror on our community is simply pure luck.”

Gallion is facing 23 charges ranging from Arson 1, Arson 2, Criminal Mischief, Burglary 2, and Terror Threat 2 on several counts.

The sentencing trial is set to continue on Wednesday, Jan. 25.