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Hooper Bay man sentenced to 7 years in prison for manslaughter connected to residential fire

The Nora Guinn Justice Complex in Bethel, Alaska.
MaryCait Dolan
The Nora Guinn Justice Complex in Bethel, Alaska.

A 20-year-old man from the coastal village of Hooper Bay has been sentenced to serve seven years in prison after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Alaska State Troopers say that on March 9, 2023, Hooper Bay resident Grant Hill set fire to a residence with two people inside, killing the homeowner, 43-year-old Victor Smith. Troopers also say that witnesses reported seeing Hill fighting with the other occupant of the home, 42-year-old Joseph Seton, who troopers say is Hill’s uncle, outside of the home before the fire.

According to the trooper who responded to the residence, Seton reported that both he and Smith attempted to extinguish the fire, which started inside the front entryway of the home. While Seton was able to escape through a back window, Smith was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Hooper Bay’s clinic.

According to the trooper, Hill said that he had been angry at Seton and that he set a couch cushion and cardboard box on fire in the front entryway of the home with the intention of harming Seton.

On Feb. 15, Bethel Superior Court Judge Nathaniel Peters sentenced Hill to 11 years in prison with four years suspended, in addition to 15 years of probation.

Evan Erickson is a reporter at KYUK who has previously worked as a copy editor, audio engineer and freelance journalist.