Jackson County Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka said on Tuesday, Sept. 25 that the defendant, Nikki Joly has been charged in connection with an Aug. 10, 2017 house fire. Joly has been charged with first degree arson which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Joly’s pets – two dogs and three cats – were killed in the four-alarm fire and two firefighters were taken to the hospital.
Joly is a well-known local LGBTQ activist who led the Jackson Pride Center at the time the fire took place. The organization issued a statement regarding the arraignment of its previous executive director, Joly:
“We as an organization stand strong in our belief of being innocent until proven guilty. Even though he has not been a part of the Jackson Pride Center since Aug. 19, 2018, we stand behind our LGBTQ community members’ rights. Mr. Joly is a strong voice within the community, as a citizen, as an advocate, and finally as an activist. He helped lay the foundation on which we continue to build on as an LGBTQ community. The Jackson Pride Center stands behind its community. We hope that justice will prevail.”
Hundreds gathered for a fundraiser last year in August to support Joly and his partner, Chris Moore. Over $40,000 was raised to help Joly and Moore reach their goal of $50,000 to purchase a new home. That fundraiser was held inside St. Johns United Church of Christ, home of the United Center for Caring in Jackson. Although Joly had severed his relationship with both the Center and the church about a year ago, executive director of the Center, Barbara Shelton, said, “I have no comment about the arrest and can only pray for our LGBT community and all of Jackson, including Nikki and Chris.”
The police report has been made available to the public by way of the Freedom of Information Act.
A preliminary examination is scheduled for Oct. 11 at 9:30 a.m. in District Court with Judge Daniel Goostrey.