FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks man was sentenced to serve at least 20 years in prison Monday for the March 2007 murder of a mental health worker.
Under negotiated terms, Brian Galbraith, 54, agreed to plead guilty to a charge of first-degree murder for fatally stabbing 32-year-old residential worker Genine Holznagel-Leary outside Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health Center.
Galbraith received a 99-year sentence, but 63 years of that is suspended. Factoring in the four years Galbraith has already served, the earliest he could be eligible for parole is at age 74. If he were released on parole, he would be required to follow the directions of mental health experts and take all required medications.
Superior Court Judge Robert Downes said he did not accept the plea agreement lightly but believed both attorneys had worked hard and in good faith to reach an agreement.
Downes also observed that Galbraith’s mental state has improved visibly in recent months.
Galbraith has a history of paranoid schizophrenia and has said in the past he believes “green and purple people” killed Holznagel-Leary. In the last few years, charges against Galbraith were assigned and then dismissed because he was not found competent to stand trial.
Galbraith was voluntarily committed to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. Charges were re-filed when he asked to be released.
This time, a hearing in September 2010 found Galbraith competent to stand trial.
“He’s much more focused,” Downes remarked at Monday’s hearing. “I’ll never forget when he came to this court, he was not.”
Wearing a yellow prison jumpsuit, Galbraith sat between his lawyer and a mental health expert Monday. He answered most of Downes’ questions with a “yea” and chose not to make any comments to the court before sentencing.
At one point, Galbraith attorney Michael Biderman asked for a recess when Galbraith asked Downes 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 and to appeal that trial’s vertict. When the defense team returned to the courtroom, Galbraith said he understood.
Before the 2007 killing at the Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health Center, Galbraith had a few violent crimes on his record, including a 1983 conviction for trying to kidnap a woman and a 1989 assault conviction for assaulting a grocery store employee with a knife.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.