MAYVILLE – More details were revealed Thursday in Chautauqua County Court regarding the investigation of Jonathan Young, the 20-year-old area native accused of setting 12 fires in the Jamestown area.
Jamestown Police Detective Rex Goot, who specializes in arson investigations, was the first person to testify during the Huntley Hearing, which discusses the potential suppression of statements made to police by a suspect.
Assistant District Attorney David Gregory, who was assisted by fellow ADA John Zuroski, asked Goot a series of questions which provided details of the investigation and interrogation processes.
Goot testified that on Mar. 2nd, 2017, he conducted a series of interviews with Young, Reggie Blodien, Karin Quackenbush and Victoria Miller, all of whom reportedly lived with Young at 621 E. 6th St. in Jamestown. The interviews were conducted following the first of two arson fires that occurred at the address that day.
Quackenbush and Blodien said Young was trying to retrieve belongings from the residence, according to Goot. Goot said he located Young trying to retrieve his property, and engaged in conversation.
Goot told the court that Young said he had trouble with Blodien, Quackenbush and Miller, and he was trying to retrieve his property.
Goot said he became aware of the second fire at the residence that day, and when he showed up, Jamestown K-9 Police Officer Erik Kraft told him that he saw and spoke to Young on scene.
Chautauqua County Public Defender Phil Cala, who handled the line of questioning for the defense, objected, arguing that context wasn’t being delivered. Cala was overruled.
According to Goot’s testimony, Kraft said he noticed footprints in the snow around the property. Kraft reportedly told Goot that he noticed, when Young spoke with him on scene, snow on his shoes.
Goot testified that he located Young, himself, at approximately 11 a.m on Mar. 3rd at a residence located at 154 James St., which is near Jamestown Community College.
Goot said that a female answered the door when he knocked. The female reportedly said that Young wasn’t in the residence when asked, but Goot testified that he saw Young laying on the floor and looking at him.
Goot testified that he asked Young about the timeline of his whereabouts the previous evening, and Young reportedly responded by saying he was at play practice, and that he was driving by when the second fire occurred.
Goot said he asked Young if he’d be willing to come down to JPD headquarters for further questioning, and he was later taken to the station by JPD officer Jay Wadsworth.
At 1:00 P.M. that afternoon, Goot and Lt. Fred DeGolier began the interview process by advising Young of his Miranda rights. Young reportedly signed the waiver.
Goot said that the interview was taped and recorded. For the first 1.5 hours, Goot said that the audio was choppy. During that time, Goot testified that Young was “somber and concerned” about the questioning of the fires.
A break in the interview was conducted, and during that break, Goot testified that he spoke with both Police Captain Robert Samuelson and District Attorney Patrick Swanson’s Office to see if the investigation could proceed.
The interview continued for another two hours, and Young was allowed to leave, according to Goot. Goot testified that on Monday, Mar. 6, Young returned to JPD for more questioning from Samuelson.
Goot said from the conclusion of the interview on Mar. 6 to Apr. 4, JPD had no contact with Young. In April, the Butler County Jail called Samuelson for assistance in identifying Young. Goot said that Samuelson sent photos to the jail, and Young was identified.
During that time, Goot testified that a missing person’s report was filed with the New York State Police for Jonathan Young.
On Apr. 4, Goot and Samuelson traveled to Butler to speak with PA State Troopers. The PA State Police previously charged Young with an arson that occurred on Route 8 in Slippery Rock Twsp.
Goot said that on Apr. 5, Jamestown Police filed charges against Young in City Court.
Cala began his cross-examination by asking Goot how he began to identify Young as the suspect in the 621 E. 6th St. fires. Goot testified that he became convinced Young set the fires after neighbors identified seeing someone matching Young’s description around the residence, as well as hearing from Kraft about the footprints.
Cala proceeded to ask Goot if Young appeared to show signs of manic behavior, or any other mental episodes, during the Mar. 3rd interview. Gregory objected, sighting that it was a Huntley Hearing, but Foley overruled.
Goot testified that Young seemed “frightened” during the questioning. Goot answered “no” when asked if he remembered telling Young that he’d be put in a holding cell if he attempted to leave the Police Department.
Goot said that Young was briefly cuffed during a break in the interview.
Gregory proceeded to call Kraft to the stand. Kraft testified that, when he responded to the second fire at 621 E. 6th St. at 11:27 p.m on Mar. 2nd, Jamestown Fire Battalion Chief Andrew Finson told him that he observed footprints around the house.
Kraft said his K-9 helped him track as many of the footprints as possible. After returning the K-9 to his vehicle, Kraft testified that Young approached him from behind.
According to Kraft, Young was wearing black paint around his eyes and had snow on his shoes. Young reportedly told Kraft that he used to live at the residence, and that his roommates wanted him out.
Samuelson was the third witness to be called, and the first after the court’s lunch recess. Samuelson identified a CD that contained the interview of Young that he conducted on Mar. 6, and that he had a chance to watch the interview again.
Samuelson was asked why a missing person’s report was filed for Young with the New York State Police in late March, and he testified that State Police had jurisdiction for the report.
The Captain testified that, on Apr. 3rd, 2017, he called the Pennsylvania State Police Barracks in Butler and left a message for Trooper Christopher Balsik, who was investigating the Slippery Rock Arson.
When Balsik returned the call, Samuelson said he explained that Young was a person of interest. Balsik reportedly told Samuelson that Young gave the name “Grant Harvey Davis.”
On Apr. 4, Samuelson said he and Detective Goot traveled to the barracks. Samuelson said both he and Goot observed Balsik interview Young from outside the interrogation room.
Balsik, who primarily focused on advancing his own investigation, reportedly inquired about a church fire that occurred in Dec. 2016, as well as a fire at a vacant E. 2nd St. structure. Both fires occurred in Jamestown.
Samuelson said Young denied any involvement in those fires during the interview. Samuelson also testified that Young told Balcik, “He (Young) was from New York. He said he believed he was wanted for multiple arson fires back in New York.”
Samuelson reiterated that JPD applied for the charges on Apr. 5.
Cala began questioning Samuelson by asking if Young was handcuffed during the Mar. 3rd interview. Samuelson answered by saying Young was handcuffed and detained briefly, but he said he intervened because he didn’t think there was enough evidence, at that point, to charge him.
During the Mar. 3rd interview, Samuelson said he didn’t know if Young would be able to make a play he stared in that evening. The Captain testified that Young said he “didn’t want to let his co-stars down” by missing the play.
Cala asked Samuelson if Young disclosed any previous history with mental illness, including what Cala said was a reported stay at Jones Hill in Jamestown. Samuelson testified that Young disclosed various issues, but didn’t think Young was suffering any issues during the interview.
During the Mar. 6 interview, Samuelson testified that he showed Young a photograph of burnt gloves.
Young reportedly confirmed that they were his, and that he “used a toaster to dry his gloves.”
Samuelson said that, when PA State Police originally charged Young with the Slippery Rock arson, he was charged as Grant Harvey Davis. Samuelson explained, however, that he was officially questioned as Jonathan Young in April.
Prosecutor Gregory continued by calling Balcik to the stand. Balcik testified that he responded to the scene of the Slippery Rock fire, originally labeled as “suspicious”, on the morning of Mar. 28, 2017. Balcik said he was charged with securing and examining the scene, burn patterns, and interviews with witnesses.
Young was arrested outside of the diner, Wieners Gone Wild, and taken to the State Police Barracks in Butler. Balcik told the court that, when he returned to the barracks after concluding the investigation, Young was Mirandized as Grant H. Davis.
Balcik testified that Young’s story of living home-to-home and on the road for his entire life “didn’t make any sense.” Balcik said, therefore, that Young was taken to Butler County Jail as a John Doe because he was unable to confirm his name was Grant Harvey Davis.
An on-call magistrate was used to formally charge Young and set bail, according to Balcik.
Balcik testified that on the evening of Apr. 3rd, he received and returned a message from Samuelson saying Young was wanted as a suspect in the fires back in New York.
That evening, he was Mirandized as Jonathan H. Young. When Balcik referred to Young as “Mr.Davis”, Young reportedly said to Balcik, “They didn’t tell you that I found out my name.” Young reportedly told Balcik that he had an “awakening” which allowed him to recall his identity.
Cala asked Balcik if Young expressed any issues with mental health, especially with the uncertainty of his identity. Balcik said that Young told him that on the evening of Apr. 2nd, he woke up from having nightmares and he remembered his name.
Young reportedly expressed that he may have had episodes previously, and that he may not have been in his right mind.
Balcik described Young as being “polite and calm” during his arrest, and that the only prescription he carried was insulin.
Butler County ADA Ben Simon also testified.
Attorneys from the offices of both the Public Defender and District Attorney must submit any memorendums to suppress evidence by Jan. 11. The trial will begin on Jan. 22.
Young rejected a plea deal before the hearing that would’ve called for a 10-year determinate, concurrent sentence, plus five-years of post-release supervision, in exchange for the guilty plea to two counts of second-degree arson.