OLYMPIA - A jury has convicted a transient sex offender for the July 8 arson that caused more than $2 million in damage to Olympia's new City Hall, which is under construction downtown.
Joshua Stacy, 22, was convicted of one count of second-degree arson and two counts of second-degree burglary. The jury acquitted Stacy of one count of second-degree arson for an earlier fire at a construction trailer.
Stacy faces a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years when the judge considers his criminal history and aggravating factors. He will be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. today in Thurston County Superior Court.
The fire has delayed the opening of the City Hall by several months. Officials estimate the building will open in March.
In 2004, Stacy was convicted of first-degree child molestation in Mason County.
When the jury handed down its verdict Wednesday, it found that the arson was aggravated by three factors: It was a “major economic offense,” it “involved a destructive foreseeable impact on a person other than the victim,” and the crime occurred shortly after the defendant was released from incarceration.
Stacy was released May 11, 2010, from Coyote Ridge Correctional Center, court papers state.
The fire caused extensive smoke and soot damage, particularly on the first and second floors. Smoke spread through the building through utility conduits, elevator shafts and stairwells. The blaze, though small, caused smoke damage through the first and second floors, and the smoke-damaged walls, ceilings and conduits took months to clean.
The fire started in the police squad room, where someone had left a chemical accelerant and set the room ablaze. The words “(expletive) PIGS” were spray-painted on a wall nearby.
Stacy was arrested after police received information from the state Department of Corrections that he was at the City Hall site during the time the arson occurred.
After Stacy’s release, he had to wear a global positioning system monitoring device on his ankle at all times because he is a level 3 sex offender. The device allowed the DOC to monitor Stacy’s whereabouts.
Stacy later was charged with a break-in and arson of a trailer near the City Hall construction site that occurred days earlier.
Stacy was angry with police because of recent arrests on suspicion of failure to register as a sex offender, court papers state.
Stacy’s court-appointed attorney argued at the trial that just because GPS put Stacy in the location of the arson at the time it occurred did not mean he committed the crime.
According to trial testimony, the cost of the damage is between $2 million and $2.2 million. Nearly everything is clean now, except for a portion of the second floor that has a faint smoke smell, said Rick Dougherty, the city’s project manager for City Hall. Crews had to gut the lower part of the building, removing drywall, wiring, duct work and insulation, he said.
Staff writer Matt Batcheldor contributed to this report.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465 firstname.lastname@example.org