Home News Ex-Police Chief in Maryland Gets Multiple Life Terms in Series of Arsons

Ex-Police Chief in Maryland Gets Multiple Life Terms in Series of Arsons

Ex-Police Chief in Maryland Gets Multiple Life Terms in Series of Arsons

A former police chief in Maryland was sentenced on Tuesday to multiple life sentences for setting fires to the houses, garages and cars of people who prosecutors said he felt had slighted him.

Judge Richard S. Bernhardt of Howard County Circuit Court sentenced David M. Crawford, 71, a former chief of the Laurel Police Department, to eight life sentences plus 75 years in prison, according to the Howard County state’s attorney’s office.

Several of the terms are to run concurrently, but the sentence will keep Mr. Crawford off the streets for the rest of his life, Richard H. Gibson Jr., the state’s attorney, said.

“He was a law enforcement official,” Mr. Gibson said. “He should have been someone who understood justice, empathy and order. Instead, he acted in a violent way.”

Mr. Crawford was arrested in 2021 in connection with a dozen arsons across six counties from 2011 to 2020.

A Howard County jury convicted Mr. Crawford in March on eight counts of attempted first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree arson and one count of malicious burning in connection with four fires that were set in 2017 and 2018. None of the victims died.

Victims of the Howard County fires include Mr. Crawford’s chiropractor; an acquaintance of his wife’s through a foster care organization called Voices for Children; and another person he knew through a parents’ rights group, Mr. Gibson said.

Mr. Crawford had already pleaded guilty to arson in Frederick County, where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to The Baltimore Sun. Cases against Mr. Crawford in Montgomery and Prince George Counties are pending.

The various fires had similar patterns, prosecutors said. The arsonist was seen on surveillance video in a sweatshirt with a hood hiding his face. He poured gasoline from gallon jugs and used a stick wrapped in cloth. A silver sedan was sometimes spotted near the crime scenes.

In January 2021, the police executed a search warrant at Mr. Crawford’s home. Investigators reviewed his internet search history and found a “target list” on his phone, which named the known victims, according to the authorities.

Mr. Crawford had worked in law enforcement for years. He was police chief in Laurel from 2006 until his resignation in 2010. Before that he was chief of the District Heights Police Department, and earlier he was a major with the Prince George’s County Police Department.

Mr. Crawford’s lawyer, Robert C. Bonsib, said on Tuesday that his client still maintained his innocence and planned to file an appeal soon.

“This is a sad and unfortunate ending for a man who for decades had well served his community in law enforcement,” Mr. Bonsib said in an email.


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