Ex-police chief in Maryland sentenced to life in prison for arsons targeting enemies


By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A former police chief in Maryland, who was labeled a serial arsonist by law enforcement officials and convicted of setting several fires over a span of nine years targeting his enemies, was sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison.

David Crawford, 71, of Ellicott City who served as police chief in the city of Laurel before resigning in 2010, was arrested in 2021. He was charged with 24 counts of attempted first- and second-degree murder and more than two dozen counts of arson and malicious burning.

Following a jury trial in March, Crawford was found guilty of eight counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of first-degree malicious burning and three counts of first-degree arson.

“In light of the defendant’s age, he is not likely to breathe free air again, and we think it’s appropriate,” Howard County State’s Attorney Rich Gibson said in a statement on Tuesday after Crawford was sentenced to two life terms plus 75 years in prison.

Investigators said they found all of the fire victims had previous disagreements with Crawford. They said they found a target list of the victims while conducting a search of Crawford’s residence in January 2021.

There were no casualties in the fires but residents fled from their homes as a result and lost their belongings.

Crawford’s attorney, Robert Bonsib, said he was likely to appeal his convictions in Howard County.

“Mr. Crawford continues to maintain his innocence,” Bonsib was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.

The targets of Crawford’s acts included a former City of Laurel official, three former law enforcement officials including a former City of Laurel Police Chief, two relatives and two of Crawford’s former physicians, law enforcement officials said.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by David Gregorio)

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