DeHart’s arsonist loses bid to reduce sentence

A Juneau man convicted of attempting to burn down DeHart’s Marina a decade ago failed to convince appellate judges that he was represented by an ineffective attorney during both of his trials.

Rickey Gottardi already unsuccessfully appealed his conviction on arson, criminal mischief and oil pollution charges to the Alaska Court of Appeals. The latest appeal stemmed from a lower court ruling denying him post-conviction relief to vacate or reduce his 20-year prison sentence.

As much as 1,600 gallons of fuel burned during the September 2004 incident in Auke Bay.

The first trial ended with a hung jury, but Gottardi was convicted on all counts in a second trial.

In his application for post-conviction relief, Gottardi alleged that his attorney, Steven Wells, dropped the ball during the subsequent retrial while cross-examining James Maher, a witness for the prosecution. Maher was Gottardi’s roommate on a boat in Auke Bay who refused to participate in cutting fuel lines or using a handheld torch to light the fuel.

Gottardi was also unhappy that Wells did not challenge a search warrant that investigators obtained for his boat. The search warrant application included a false name initially provided by Maher.

The three-judge Alaska Court of Appeals explained in an opinion issued on Sept. 17 that Gottardi failed to prove his claims that he was represented by ineffective trial counsel.

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