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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man who lit West Central house on fire in April that led to police shooting, sentenced to drug treatment

Although little is seen from the outside, some of the windows appear to be broken out after the Spokane Fire Department responded in April to a fire at 1820 W. Dean Ave. During the investigation, a witness pulled a gun and was shot by Spokane police officers, according to a news release.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The 43-year-old man who set fire to a West Central house where he and others were squatting in April was sentenced Wednesday to complete drug treatment.

Nicholes Whitney was set to be released from jail and taken to a treatment facility Wednesday evening.

During the arson investigation, another man squatting at 1820 W. Dean Ave., 38-year-old Alan Jenks, fired a gun when police tried to arrest him, according to the Spokane Police Department.

Two officers returned fire, killing Jenks. The shooting remains under investigation.

By the time of the shooting, Whitney had fled, according to court records.

The night of the fire, Whitney knocked on the basement bedroom door of the house and began talking about how he called people to set the house on fire, witnesses told police.

Other people in the house saw smoke coming from the upstairs bedroom.

Whitney was arrested days after the shooting and charged with multiple counts of arson, according to court records.

Whitney pleaded guilty to one count of reckless burning last month.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Sharon Hedlund said in court Wednesday that the prosecutor’s office had trouble getting evidence from the Spokane Fire Department.

She said Whitney’s prior convictions were nonviolent and largely property crimes, leading to the plea agreement.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Raymond Clary sentenced Whitney to three to six months of drug treatment with a compliance review hearing in September. If Whitney completes the treatment program, he will be on probation for two years.

If he fails to complete the program, he could be resentenced to up to 18 months in prison.