Former police chief sentenced to life in prison in arson case


(ELLICOTT CITY, Md.) — A former Maryland police chief accused of being a serial arsonist who targeted his rivals has been sentenced to life in prison.

David Crawford, 71, was found guilty of eight counts of attempted murder in March following a trial in Howard County. On Tuesday, a judge sentenced him to life in prison for all counts, court records show. The judge ruled that six of the life sentences can be served at the same time, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Crawford was also found guilty of three counts of arson and one count of malicious burning in the trial. He was sentenced to 75 years for those counts, court records show.

Crawford had pleaded not guilty to all counts. His attorney maintained Crawford’s innocence during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing and said he plans to appeal, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The eight attempted murder charges stem from two house fires in 2017 in which five people and three people were inside the homes, respectively. One of the fires targeted the home of a chiropractor who had treated Crawford, according to charging documents.

Crawford, who resigned as police chief in Laurel in 2010, was arrested in March 2021 on a laundry list of charges in connection with fires that took place in multiple Maryland counties, including Howard, from 2011 to 2020.

Law enforcement said at the time of his arrest that investigators discovered a link between the victims, leading them to Crawford following a November 2020 fire in Montgomery County.

Crawford still faces attempted murder and arson charges in Prince George’s County and arson and reckless endangerment charges in Montgomery County. Those cases remain ongoing, court records show.

One of the fires in Prince George’s County in 2019 targeted Richard Mclaughlin, Crawford’s deputy chief and successor at the Laurel Police Department, according to the charging documents. Crawford’s stepson was targeted in three different fires in Montgomery County, including the final arson in the decadelong string of attacks, according to charging documents.

Crawford was also charged with arson in Frederick County. He entered an Alford plea — in which he pleaded guilty without admitting guilt — and was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison with all but 18 months suspended, court records show.

Crawford has been held without bond at the Howard County Department of Corrections since March 2021.

ABC News’ Mark Osborne contributed to this report.

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