CLEARFIELD – One of the victims of a Coalport fire that killed another man showed his anger as he testified in a preliminary hearing Monday in Clearfield County Court.
Mark Wolfe, an inmate of the county jail, in an unrelated case, was an argumentative witness as he explained the events of April 16 when Jonathan Mark Gallaher, 36, allegedly set fire to the Wolfe’s home, killing Matthew Troxell, 33, of Roseland.
During his testimony Wolfe explained that he found Gallaher sleeping on his porch and asked him to leave.
“He comes and passes out on my porch, whenever he wants to,” Wolfe said. Instead of leaving, Gallaher followed him up the stairs, talking the entire time.
Wolfe said he told him to leave again and pushed him.
After Gallaher went down the stairs, Wolfe said he thought he left, adding at one point in his testimony, “apparently he didn’t.”
Shortly after this, smoke started coming into the upstairs apartment where Wolfe, his wife, Lacey and Troxell were located.
He testified that the smoke was black like a tire fire and was coming up the stairwell.
Wolfe and his wife were able to get out through a window, onto the roof and then jump down to the ground. He added that he yelled at Troxell to get out before they left.
Wolfe stated that he fell, but his wife was able to get into the downstairs apartment and get her father out.
When Thomas Dickey, defense attorney for Gallaher focused on accusations of drug use at the home, Wolfe became more defensive throwing the question back at Dickey asking “do you use drugs?”
Wolfe stated that no one sold drugs at the home and that he didn’t even know how to use methamphetamine.
Dickey pressed Wolfe as to why he didn’t call the police about Gallaher’s behavior, and he responded that if Gallaher didn’t leave, he was going to “kick his [expletive].”
In response to a question about what Gallaher was wearing, Wolfe stated “the same thing he was wearing all week.”
His rambling also included “I have no respect for him (Gallaher). He killed Mad Dog” (a nickname for Troxell).
Trooper Matthew Peacock testified that video footage from cameras at a nearby bar and a residence across the street shows Gallaher enter and exit the Wolfe’s home shortly before the first signs of a fire can be seen.
The footage also shows Gallaher lighting a cigarette with a lighter but no lighter was found on him after he was taken into custody.
Dickey asked if Gallaher told him he was at the residence to buy drugs to which Peacock responded “yes,” but Gallaher would not say from whom he got drugs.
Trooper Russell Stewart, a deputy fire marshal, testified that he determined the fire started on the bottom of the staircase, but he did not find matches or a lighter there.
He did check the wiring and he did not “locate any electrical issues” that could have caused the fire.
Deputy Coroner Gilbert Stevenson confirmed that an autopsy determined Troxell had died of smoke inhalation due to a house fire and the manner of death was homicide.
In his closing arguments, Dickey asked Magisterial District Judge James Glass to dismiss all the charges.
District Attorney Ryan Sayers responded by saying there was enough evidence to send the case on to the court of common pleas because there is clearly a video of Gallaher leaving the residence just moments before the fire was spotted.
With four people in the home “luckily only one was harmed and not all four,” Sayers noted. Glass agreed and sent the case on to county court.
Gallaher is charged with four counts of homicide, two counts of arson-cause of death, five counts of arson, four counts of aggravated arson, causing a catastrophe, four counts of aggravated assault, two counts of criminal mischief and four counts of recklessly endangering another person.
He is being held without bail in the county jail.