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Central man gets six years for burning cabins

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Posted: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 12:00 am

FAIRBANKS — A Central man accused of burning down two of his neighbors’ cabins in the mining town 120 miles north of Fairbanks more than two years ago will serve a minimum of six years in prison.

Nathan E. Dewey, 28, agreed to plead guilty to two counts of arson on Monday in Superior Court. In exchange for the guilty plea, one count of arson and four counts of first-degree burglary were dismissed.

Under the terms of the plea deal, Dewey will serve a minimum of six years and a maximum of 10 years in prison. All other terms and conditions of the sentence are left up to the court, including the amount of suspended time, which could exceed the 10-year ceiling.

Dewey’s sentencing is set for March 17.

Dewey had been implicated in a series of fires in Central in spring 2011. He told Alaska State Troopers he lit his own cabin on fire on March 8 of that year and tried to burn down a pair of summer cabins belonging to his neighbors, Fred and Louella Hupprich, on March 9 and March 20. The cabins were only partially damaged by fires at that time, but Dewey was accused of finishing the job on April 4 and April 8. Nobody was at either cabin when they burned.

After the March 20 fire, another neighbor told troopers he had seen Dewey carrying two red, five-gallon gasoline containers. One of the containers was left near the site of the fire and smelled like diesel or kerosene, the neighbor said.

After the April 8 fire, troopers found fresh shoe tracks in the snow leading from Dewey’s house to the smoldering remains of the Huppriches’ house. The prints matched shoes worn by Dewey.

Dewey met troopers on the porch of his house, provided a false name and declined to make a statement, troopers said.

A woman told troopers Dewey admitted setting the Hupprich home on fire.

The state crime lab also determined that Dewey’s

fingerprints matched those found on items found in the Huppriches’ home after the March 20 fire.

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Baldock, with the Fairbanks district attorney’s office, said the plea deal came after “a long and arduous road” that included 2 1/2 years of litigation, during which time Dewey was twice sent to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute in Anchorage for court-ordered competency evaluations.

“With that issue finally resolved and the defendant’s guilty pleas at last entered, the state is now focused on sentencing, where it will be asking the court to impose a significant period of incarceration to reflect the seriousness of what (Dewey) did, as well as an extended period of probation along with appropriate conditions.”

 Part of those conditions will be mental health treatment, which Baldock said “will hopefully deter Mr. Dewey from committing any future criminal acts and provide him with the rehabilitative resources that he so desperately needs.”

Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.

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