Nicholas Alexander Phillips, age 30 of Blairsden, California and Reno, Nevada was convicted on Oct. 19 of second-degree murder and felony elder abuse with a great bodily injury enhancement.
Phillips had been 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 later 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.
Multiple engines responded to the fire including engines from the Graeagle, Plumas Eureka, and Eastern Plumas fire departments, as well as Eastern Plumas Health Care EMTs.
Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister, who prosecuted the case, emphasized 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 by dragging him to safety from the garage of the fully engulfed house.
Hollister extended his appreciation to all of the first responders as well as the excellent collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies for their efforts in the investigation and prosecution. Hollister also noted his gratitude for the patience, care and understanding of the surviving victim as well as the victims’ family members. The Plumas County District Attorney’s Office continues to extend its condolences to the victims’ family for this selfish and senseless tragedy.
Phillips is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 21, 2022, before the Honorable Janet Hilde in Department One of the Plumas County Superior Court.