The 37-year-old Sterling man who pleaded “no contest” to fatally stabbing his brother 2 1/2 years ago, was sentenced Monday to five years in prison with one year suspended. Upon release he will be on probation for four years.
“I know you’re an honorable man and you know you have to be punished,” said Kenai Superior Court Judge Charles Huguelet in sentencing Jesse Gibson, who accepted a plea arrangement charging him with manslaughter in the death of his younger brother Paul.
According to Alaska State Troopers, after receiving a 911 call on Sept. 19, 2004, troopers and Central Emergency Services medics responded to the home off Cedarwood in Sterling where they found Paul M. Gibson, 32, with a knife wound to the chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Witnesses said the brothers had argued, fought physically and sometime during the fight, the younger brother received the knife wound.
During the sentencing hearing Monday, defense attorney Sidney Billingslea said that during the altercation in the kitchen, Jesse Gibson grabbed for something and unknowingly grabbed a steak knife.
“This offense appears to be a situational offense fueled by alcohol,” Billingslea said. “This was as close to accidental as you can get.
“They were fighting about money ... Paul taking checks and writing them to liquor stores,” she said.
The Gibsons’ sister, Sherrie Dobson, testified that Paul “has had drug and alcohol abuse issues most of his life.”
Through tears, Dobson said she and their friends bailed him out numerous times.
“I felt maybe if I wouldn’t have bailed him out, he would’ve gotten more help,” she said, crying.
“I know that Jesse ? given the choice would gladly take Paul’s place,” Dobson said.
Hilda “Laurie” Martin, who has served as Jesse Gibson’s third-party custodian between the time he was released on bail until he entered his plea in January, said he has stopped consuming alcohol.
When asked by Billingslea if Jesse is remorseful, Martin said, “Absolutely. He is going to feel the pain and guilt for this the rest of his life.”
Arguing for the mandatory minimum five-year sentence, assistant district attorney Jean Seaton said, “First the court has to look at the evidence to decide if any mitigators are proven.
“We have two brothers fighting over money. Jesse became very enraged by this. He was 34 years old at the time. He wasn’t 18. He was a grown man.
“It wasn’t a case of self defense. Jesse was the only one who used a weapon.
“It was not the least-serious (of the crime of manslaughter). It was senseless. It was not least-serious.
“I am not going to argue that he meant to kill his brother. He certainly is sorry,” Seaton said, asking that the court not deviate from the minimum five-year sentence.
When asked by Huguelet if he wanted to make a statement, Gibson said, “If I could bring my brother back, I’d gladly give my life, but I can’t.”
Huguelet said grabbing the knife in a fit of rage does not constitute an accident.
He also said, “I get the impression you’re well on your way to rehabilitation.”
According to Billingslea, Gibson has already been in custody 494 days, which will come off the four years to serve.
If he is credited with one-third off the 48 months for good behavior, he would have to serve 32 months. Subtracting the 494 days, or 16 months already served, leaves approximately 16 months left to serve.
Billingslea said the sentence will not be appealed.
“I wish it would have been (less). I don’t think it serves anybody,” she said.
The Department of Corrections will decide whether Gibson is incarcerated at Wildwood Correctional Facility, at Spring Creek in Seward, or at a contract prison in Arizona.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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