Crime & Courts

Man sentenced to over 300 years for 2017 arson and murder in Anchorage

A man was sentenced this month to 312 years for attempting to sexually assault a woman inside her Midtown Anchorage apartment before setting the building ablaze and killing her in 2017.

Jimmy Dale Cates, 58, was convicted by a jury last summer on charges including first- and second-degree murder, arson and attempted sexual assault, as well as tampering with physical evidence.

Police and firefighters were called to a fire at a fourplex on West 23rd Avenue early on Jan. 24, 2017, according to an affidavit written by an Anchorage police detective and included with charges. Officials found a 57-year-old woman dead inside an apartment after the blaze was extinguished, the affidavit said.

An autopsy found the woman was strangled and also suffered from smoke inhalation, the affidavit said. Cates had harmed her during an attempt to sexually assault her inside the apartment, prosecutors said.

A man was seen in footage recorded by nearby surveillance cameras setting the building on fire, the affidavit said. Investigators determined the fire had been started inside the woman’s apartment, as well as outside the building, according to the affidavit.

Surveillance footage also showed an SUV in the area that connected Cates to the crime, the affidavit said.

Cates was interviewed by police in March 2017 and charged with the crimes later that month.


There is no concrete evidence to show that Cates and the victim knew each other, including no connection from phone records that showed they were in contact, said Alaska Department of Law spokesman Sam Curtis.

Cates is a registered sex offender who was on probation for a 1997 conviction of attempted sexual assault when the 2017 murder and arson occurred.

A jury convicted Cates on 10 charges after a four-week trial that ended last June.

On Friday, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Kevin Saxby sentenced Cates to 312 years in prison.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at