Nicholas Alexander Phillips, age 30 of Blairsden was sentenced to 21 years to life in state prison on Jan. 21 by the Honorable Janet Hilde. Previously, on Oct. 19, 2021, Phillips had been convicted of Second Degree Murder and Felony Elder Abuse with a great bodily injury enhancement.
Speaking at the sentencing were members of the victim’s family, including her husband, as well as members of Phillips family. Phillips also spoke, apologizing for his actions and taking responsibility for the tragedy.
Phillips was arrested on March 14, 2019 after setting fire to the victims’ home following an argument. The victims had been housing Phillips at their Blairsden residence on Mohawk Vista Road.
During the early morning hours of March 14, Phillips got into an argument with the 85-year-old female victim. The argument escalated leading to Phillips pouring gas from a gas can on the hallway floor and lighting the gas on fire. Once the fire began, the 89-year-old male victim located a fire extinguisher and attempted to put the blaze out. As he did, Phillips took the fire extinguisher and threw the 89 year old victim to the ground, breaking the man’s arm. Phillips then fled.
The 89 year old victim was able to get to the garage where he was rescued by a first responder. The 85-year-old victim was not able to escape and perished in the fire. Some miles away, Phillips was located and detained by CHP Lt. Erik Egide. The case was investigated by the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, CalFire Arson Investigators and the District Attorney’s Investigations Division leading to Phillips arrest and eventual conviction. Evidence discovered during the investigation indicated Phillips may have been under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crime.
Multiple engines responded to the fire including engines from Graeagle Fire Dept., Plumas Eureka Fire Dept., Eastern Plumas Fire as well as Eastern Plumas Health Care EMTs. Of particular note was the quick and heroic efforts of Eastern Plumas Fire Chief Bob Frank who was the initial responder and was able to save the 89-year-old victim, dragging him to safety from the garage of the fully engulfed house.
Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister extended his appreciation to all of the first responders, especially the life-saving efforts of Chief Frank. Hollister also noted the excellent collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies for their efforts in the investigation and prosecution.
Finally, and most importantly, Hollister noted his gratitude for the patience, care and understanding of the surviving victim as well as the victims’ family members. During sentencing, Hollister expressed his outrage at Phillips crime, arguing Phillips violated a position of trust in harming the defenseless victims. Hollister shared the comments from the victims’ family that Phillips actions were horrific and unforgivable.