On June 13, James Doggett pleaded guilty in Skagit County Superior Court to one count of attempted first-degree arson and two counts of second-degree arson.
Prosecutors alleged Doggett, 64, started all three fires within about a week in Skagit, King and Snohomish counties.
The first was in Edmonds. Early on the morning of Dec. 23, 2020, the Firdale Market went up in flames. South County Fire estimated the damage at $325,000.
While firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, Doggett reportedly climbed out of a clothing bin against the south wall of the market. He spoke incoherently. Officers let him go.
Surveillance footage later showed a man in front of the store grabbing paper from a nearby garbage can to build a fire. Smoke billowed. The man then placed the entire trash bag from the can into the flames, according to police. The man stared at his fiery creation.
The man in the video appeared to be Doggett, an officer noted.
On Dec. 31, 2020, Doggett set fire to a booth in a Seattle parking garage, according to police. Security video showed the defendant walking toward the booth seconds before the fire started. It was destroyed. Officials estimated the cost to replace it would be $50,000.
A witness saw Doggett’s photo in The Daily Herald and believed he was the same man who torched the parking garage booth.
The next day, Doggett was in Mount Vernon. He tried to light gas pumps on fire at a Shell station with lighter fluid stolen from the gas station convenience store, according to police. He was not successful.
When approached by officers, Doggett identified himself as “God” and talked about being brothers in arms with police. He eventually gave his real name. Asked why he was in Mount Vernon, Doggett said he thought he was going to Smokey Point.
Mount Vernon police arrested Doggett for investigation of arson and misdemeanor theft.
In an interview with police, Doggett acknowledged setting the parking booth on fire. The officers showed him photos from the surveillance footage. The defendant signed or initialed a few, according to a police report. On a photo of the booth, he wrote “JIM TORCHED” with an arrow pointing at the booth.
Court records show Doggett has ties to the Edmonds area dating back to the 1990s.
For the three fires, Doggett faced up to about 3⅓ years under state sentencing guidelines. On June 13, Skagit County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Neidzwski sentenced him to 2¾ years.