AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Sentencing hearing for serial arsonist Jacob Kokko

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(WSB photo – Jacob Kokko, defense lawyer, prosecutor in court)

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).

10 Replies to "AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Sentencing hearing for serial arsonist Jacob Kokko"

  • Egan Fo April 1, 2016 (1:57 pm)

    I really hope we never hear his name again. I’m optimistic he will seek the help he needs and stay out of trouble. He’s got lots of time ahead of him. 

  • Jim P. April 1, 2016 (2:28 pm)

    “He’s a good kid, you’re not going to see him again”

    Too bad lawyers can’t be held financially and legally accountable for these statements when they turn out to be patently false.

    Society should not just pass off acts that could easily have killed or maimed many people.  Multiple arson is not an “Oppsie, how silly of me” action.

    • WSGirl April 1, 2016 (4:40 pm)

      Agreed. Hopefully that psych degree he’s “working” on will teach him whatever is wrong with him…

    • B April 1, 2016 (6:13 pm)

      We wouldn’t have a functional justice system then, not to mention the idea is absurd – how is a lawyer liable for future behavior of someone? Should we also execute the parents of people on death row? Imprison family members of criminals? 

  • Oakley34 April 1, 2016 (2:41 pm)

    Yeah, good luck to him.   

  • Dzag April 1, 2016 (8:36 pm)

    Where are our priorities people! Pete Holmes comes out to look at cleared trees (which was very wrong and the people should be charged) then someone commits arson and is given a plea???? IF Arson in this city is four months then cutting trees will probably be worth four days!!! Pete this city would be a safer place if you stop making these nonsense plea deals and take crime as seriously as you take trees 

    • WSB April 1, 2016 (9:19 pm)

      Dzag, Pete Holmes and the City Attorney’s Office had nothing to do with the Jacob Kokko case. This was entirely through the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, led by elected PA Dan Satterberg. – TR

  • Dzag April 1, 2016 (9:26 pm)

    Thank you for the great reporting and clarification. It’s frustrating none the less that arson isn’t taken seriously by the county prosecutor 

    I stand corrected 

  • Graysongirl April 2, 2016 (2:30 pm)

    Sheesh people.  Mental health issues are very tough for parents and young adults.  It is the time when an underlying issues like this starts to surface.  Arson is a terrible, terrible thing.  It threatens lives and property.  But I would hope there is some empathy for the parents who are dealing with a young adult son who is struggling.  Jail is not the answer here.  I would rather my tax dollars go toward helping him, than sending him to a place that will make his illness worse.

  • KT April 2, 2016 (8:33 pm)

    …”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.”…   Oh, please.  Yup, the arsonist is responsible for getting himself help.   

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