Jamison Gallion sentenced to 37 years for setting fires in Two Rivers area

We continue our in depth coverage of convicted two rivers arsonist, Jamieson Gallion's sentencing.
Published: Feb. 4, 2023 at 1:09 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In a crowded Fairbanks courtroom, 19-year-old Jamison Gallion, the man who pleaded guilty to setting several buildings and homes ablaze in the Two Rivers area in 2021, sat patiently as he listened to Superior Court Judge Paul Lyle carry out the final sentencing.

Gallion, who was 17 years old when the crimes occurred, was arrested on August 27, 2021, just 4 days after the fire that engulfed the Two Rivers Lodge.

He was initially charged with 23 crimes including arson, criminal mischief, and terroristic threatening.

In 2022 Gallion pleaded guilty to five counts of second-degree arson, four counts of second-degree burglary, seven counts of criminal mischief, and one count of second-degree terroristic threatening.

“The purpose of today’s hearing is for the court to announce sentencing,” said Lyle. “Sentencing is complex in balancing and will take me some time to explain why the court is arriving at the sentence it is arriving at today.”

Judge Lyle explained the merger of the two counts of first-degree criminal mischief into two counts of first-degree arson. Under Alaska statutes, both crimes protect the same societal interest. First-degree arson, and first-degree criminal mischief, both Class-A Felonies, have the same presumptive sentencing range. “The Double Jeopardy analysis for these charges is different than for the other charges that the court ruled at the last hearing,” said Lyle. “But the written case still applies to them.” Referring to the fires that took place at the McKee residence and the Two Rivers Lodge.

These two arsons had people inside the residence during the time the crimes occurred.

“The intent and conduct under criminal mischief one, and arson one is the same,” he said. The defendant performed a single act that caused each of the fires at the McKee’s residence and the Two Rivers Lodge. Thus, criminal mischief one, and arson one, must merge and the defendant will receive a single sentence on each of those properties.”

“This leaves the count of terroristic threatening to be considered under the Double Jeopardy Clause,” Judge Lyle explained. “The burglary, criminal mischief, and arson statutes primarily protect property interests. Terroristic threatening protects people from the fear engendered by a communicated threat that a circumstance is dangerous to human life where the property exists.”

Judge Lyle said the terroristic threatening statue is classified in the criminal code as an offense against public administration. Not against persons or property. “The terroristic threatening conviction will not merge with any other conviction and the defendant will receive a sentence separate from any other sentence,” said Lyle.

“Among arson like this one, where there has been neither loss of life, nor actual physical injury, I can find no recorded or unreported decision as serious as the facts of this case when viewed in the aggregate,” Judge Lyle said. “The defendant engaged in a series of arsons, that cost millions of dollars of damage. He directly endangered the lives of 10 people, some of them, as they slept.” The judge went on to say, “He had to have known that it was likely he was doing so, when he lit a match at a residence home around 2 a.m., when it is most likely people will be asleep in bed.” Lyle also noted the Two Rivers Lodge fire, “And when he started a fire at a business that had a lighted open sign in the window at the time he lit the fire.”

“Mr.Gallion wrote letters,” Judge Lyle continued. " Terrorizing and taunting the entire Two Rivers, Pleasant Valley Community for three months, in the summer of 2021. Setting fires in an area that, according to his own letter from June of 2021, he knew had no fire protection.”

Judge Lyle stated Gallion forced the members of the Two Rivers community to live in fear, and referenced a letter written on June 24, 2021, (the only one provided to the court) stating the letter was “chilling.”

“Because of his actions, The Two Rivers, Pleasant Valley Community lost trust in their neighbors, they lost a sense of security in their own homes,” Lyle went on to say, “Some of them lost everything they own.”

Lyle stated, this case is “One of the most serious arsons, within the class of arsons, where death or actual physical injury has not resulted.”

Lyle’s decision considered several factors, in this case, those included, the possibility of rehabilitation, prior criminal history, family support, and Gallion’s expressed remorse on the impacts of his crimes.

The composite sentence Judge Lyle imposed was 37 years of incarceration, with 13 years suspended and 10 years of probation. Jamison Gallion is to serve 24 years in prison.

Given the time Gallion has already served since his arrest and assuming a one-third time reduction for good behavior, Gallion could be released from prison in 2037.

Gallion is expected to pay restitution to the victims with funds from his Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) and is also banned from contacting the victims or being on their property.