(Reader photo, courtesy Aaron: October arson outside Senior Center)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
After 4 1/2 months in jail, West Seattle serial arsonist Jacob Kokko has pleaded guilty – and could go free as soon as he’s sentenced.
A plea bargain sent him to court on Thursday to admit to three crimes, one a lesser charge than the original ones filed, according to court documents we found during a routine check online early today.
(WSB photo: October arson outside Hamm Building)
Kokko, 22, was arrested last November and charged in connection with three October arsons – two in The Junction, outside the Senior Center and the historic Hamm Building (home to businesses including Easy Street Records, Twilight Gallery, and Alaska Street Tattoo Parlor), and one outside a house on the same block in High Point where he lives.
The charges at the time were second-degree arson (a Class B felony), and second-degree reckless burning and third-degree malicious mischief (both gross misdemeanors). In the plea bargain, the first charge – related to the Senior Center fire – was reduced to first-degree reckless burning (a Class C felony); the other two remained the same.
Kokko, who has no prior criminal record, was arrested after a series of arsons including those fires unnerved West Seattleites for weeks. He has never been charged in the other fires during that same time period – police say he confessed to one fire in which he was not charged, the bus-stop arson on Morgan south of 35th on October 12th (shown on the surveillance video that led to his arrest), but denied any involvement in the October 18th Sylvan Ridge car arsons, the October 19th High Point rental-office waste-bin fire that did more damage in a later flareup, or the October 21st 40th/Morgan recycling-bin fire.
As for the potential penalty:
The recommendation accompanying Kokko’s guilty pleas is for a sentence of “credit for time served” in jail, which will be almost five months by his scheduled sentencing date – that’s longer than the standard “up to 60 days” sentence for someone with no criminal record. Also recommended, a year in jail that will be suspended unless he fails to make it through a year of probation. He would also be recommended for 50 hours of community restitution work and to pay monetary restitution, determined at a future date, to the victims of the four fires to which he has confessed.
The documents give no further hint of a motive; last fall, Kokko was quoted as saying he set the fires because he needed help.
Kokko is scheduled to be sentenced at 1 pm April 1st by King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell.