Sitka man charged with arson in Juneau

5/31/12 3:30 update:

The Sitka man accused of setting fire to a business in Juneau’s Auke Bay Harbor parking lot last night (Wednesday) was arraigned in Juneau District Court this afternoon (Thursday).

Judge Keith Levy set James Lee Jesperson’s bail at $500-thousand dollars cash.

Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp argued that Jesperson poses a danger to the community, based partly on a 1991 attempted murder conviction in California, for which he served eight years in prison.

Juneau Police say Jesperson broke a window and started a fire inside Brick’s Electronics shortly before midnight. Responding officers were able to put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher. A person living in the apartment above the store got out without injury.

During today’s arraignment hearing Kemp said Jesperson and his girlfriend made threats against Brick’s owners and employees prior to the alleged arson.

Levy appointed a public defender to represent Jesperson, who said he lives on his boat and is on disability.

A preliminary hearing was set for June 8th, unless a grand jury returns an indictment.

Original story:

A Sitka man has been arrested and charged with arson in Juneau after allegedly setting fire to an Auke Bay Harbor business late last night (Wednesday).

Juneau Police responded to a report of breaking glass at the harbor just before midnight. Officers found a fire burning inside the business and were able to put it out with an extinguisher. One person inside the building was able to get out without injury.

A witness reported seeing a man heading down to the harbor shortly after the fire started.

Officers arrested 53-year-old Sitka resident James Lee Jesperson on a fishing boat. He was allegedly intoxicated at the time. Jesperson is being held at Lemon Creek Correctional Center on no bail.

A police press release did not name the business allegedly set on fire, or how much damage was caused by the blaze.

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