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Fairbanks man who pleaded guilty to killing mental health worker gets at least 20 years in prison

Posted: April 26, 2011 - 8:26pm

FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks man with a history of mental illness who pleaded guilty to stabbing and killing a mental health worker has been sentenced to at least 20 years in prison.

Brian Galbraith, 54, agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder for killing Genine Holznagel-Leary, 32, outside Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health Center in 2007, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Tuesday.

Galbraith stabbed the woman after she went to speak with him about a threatening statement he reportedly made. A witness told authorities that Galbraith stabbed her in the back and slit her throat.

After the stabbing, he was overheard saying: “Death is life.”

Holznagel-Leary worked at the mental health housing facility next door to another mental health facility where Galbraith lived.

Galbraith received a 99-year sentence with 63 of those years suspended. That means that the earliest he would be eligible for parole is at age 74. The sentence was accepted by Superior Court Judge Robert Downes.

Galbraith has a history of paranoid schizophrenia. In the past, he has said that he believes “green and purple people” or a cab driver killed the woman. In the past few years, Galbraith has been charged and counts later dismissed because he was not found competent to stand trial.

Galbraith was voluntarily committed to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, but charges were re-filed when he asked to be released. A hearing in September 2010 found him competent to stand trial.

Downes said Galbraith had undergone an “unpredictable and amazing recovery” after a history of making delusional statements.

Galbraith chose not to make any comments before being sentenced Monday.

During that hearing, Galbraith attorney Michael Biderman sought a recess when his client asked the judge whether he would be able to have a retrial. The judge had been explaining that by pleading guilty, Galbraith was giving up his right to a jury trial. When the defense team returned to the courtroom, Galbraith said he understood.

Galbraith has prior convictions for violent crimes, including trying to kidnap a woman and assaulting a grocery store employee with a knife.

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