A man with criminal convictions for assault and reckless endangerment has been charged with second-degree arson in a fire at a Nikolaevsk home last Friday.
Alaska State Troopers allege that Derek Jokay-Szilagyi, 46, tried to burn down a home he co-owns with a Nikolaevsk woman.
Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Services firefighters mounted a full response to the fire at about 10:44 p.m. March 1. According to a press release, 12 firefighters and EMTs in two fire engines, one tanker, an ambulance and two command vehicles went to the fire on Nikolaevsk Road. Crews found an exterior porch and parts of the interior on fire, but were able to knock down the outside flames and extinguish the fire inside as well. No one was at the home at the time of the fire, and no one was injured.
In a criminal complaint, Trooper Jake Blessent wrote that the witness who reported the fire said she saw Jokay-Szilagyi walking away from the scene of the fire wearing a hooded sweatshirt, pants and XTRA-TUF boots. Blessent noticed a nearby property had surveillance cameras. He wrote that he looked at video footage. The video showed a person in a hooded sweatshirt wearing a headlamp walk up to the home, and about 30 seconds later a bright flash of light and smoke appeared.
Blessent then went to the home of Jokay-Szilagyi’s mother and contacted Jokay-Szilagyi. Blessent wrote that Jokay-Szilagyi appeared to have eyebrows singed or missing and a red face. Jokay-Szilagyi told Blessent he had never left the home that night and that his mother would corroborate his statements. When Jokay-Szilagyi went to get clothes, Blessent wrote that he saw a hooded sweatshirt in the closet and XTRA-TUF boots in the house. Jokay-Szilagyi denied leaving the home and said he wanted to speak with an attorney.
Blessent interviewed Jokay-Szilagyi’s mother. She said she had gone to bed around 10 p.m. and had last seen her son around 9:30 p.m. She said Jokay-Szilagyi asked her if she would “have his back” if he burned down the house. She also said Jokay-Szilagyi asked her to tell anyone who asked that he had been home all night.
In an interview with the woman who co-owned the burned house, Blessent wrote that the woman claimed she had an altercation with Jokay-Szilagyi while sorting through her dead mother’s belongings. She said Jokay-Szilagyi routinely threatened her on Facebook using her dead mother’s account.
Last May, troopers charged Jokay-Szilagyi with reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct when he laid down in the road, slowing firefighters from responding to a wildfire in Nikolaevsk. The reckless endangerment charge was dismissed, but Jokay-Szilagyi pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to time served.
After that incident, in June of 2018 Alaska State Troopers arrested Jokay-Szilagyi for assault after he threatened a South Peninsula Hospital employee with an aluminum plant stake. Jokay-Szilagyi had been taken to the hospital for a mental-health evaluation after he said he felt suicidal and homicidal. He pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault and was sentenced to nine months in jail with six months suspended.
In 2017, Jokay-Szilagyi pleaded guilty to making a false report when he claimed a neighbor had shot at him. He also pleaded guilty to harassment for urinating on the floor at the Homer Jail and throwing urine-soaked towels at troopers. In that case, prosecutors filed a petition to revoke probation for an earlier charge and he was ordered to serve 60 days.
Also in 2017, troopers charged Jokay-Szilagyi with second-degree terroristic threatening for threats he made to a mental-health worker, but that charge was dismissed. He pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and was sentenced to 30 days in jail with 20 days suspended.
According to court records, Jokay-Szilagyi was granted bail on the latest charge with the condition that he not contact his victim. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 22 in Homer.
Reach Michael Armstrong at email@example.com.