1:10 PM: As first reported here last week, serial arsonist Jacob Kokko has pleaded guilty to three charges – one, reduced as part of a plea bargain – and is being sentenced today. We’re in the courtroom of King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell and will chronicle the hearing live as it happens.
Kokko has been in jail since his arrest almost five months ago. The recommended sentence is for the time he has served – which is almost as long as the maximum possible penalty, given that he has no criminal record.
His lawyer told the judge, “He’s a good kid, you’re not going to see him again … He was crying for help, and he’s going to get the help that he needs.” His lawyer says Kokko will be responsible for getting that help.
He spoke briefly at the judge’s invitation and said this was a “turning point” in his life and that he is aware that this will affect the rest of his life. (We have his full statement on video and will add it when back at headquarters.) He said he would be going back to college, where he has two years’ credit and was majoring in psychology.
Judge Ramsdell is going along with the recommended sentencing so far, a suspended year – provided he stays out of trouble – in jail, plus as-yet-undetermined restitution, 50 hours of community service, and credit for jail time served otherwise (147 days total), meaning he will be going free shortly.
While details of the crimes were not discussed here in court, documents indicated Kokko, 22, had acknowledged setting four fires – outside the Senior Center and Hamm Building in The Junction on Halloween night, outside a house on his block in High Point earlier, and the 35th/Morgan bus-stop fire caught on the surveillance video that led to his arrest – but denied involvement in the others that were suspected to be part of the same spree.
1:26 PM: No one else has spoken at the hearing other than Kokko, the lawyers, and judge – no victims, no family members – and it’s now over (after many mostly silent moments of paperwork-signing), with the judge saying “Good luck to you, sir” and a deputy re-handcuffing Kokko to return to jail (processing for release usually takes at least a few hours).