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‘He Deserves Every Second of the Sentence’: Former Maryland Police Chief Sentenced to Eight Life Terms on Arson Charges After Setting Fire to Several Homes and Cars of People He Believed Slighted Him

The former Laurel, Maryland, police chief will spend the rest of his life in a prison cell after he was found guilty of setting fire to several homes and cars of people he believed wronged him.

Davis Crawford, 71, was convicted of eight counts of attempted first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree arson and one count of first-degree malicious burning in March, according to WTOP News.

Mugshot of Davis Crawford from the Prince George’s County jail. (Photo: @WBLATV/ Youtube screenshot)

He was sentenced to eight life terms in prison plus 75 years for fires he set in 2017 and 2018. In 2021, Crawford was arrested for setting fires between 2011 and 2020 in three counties. The counties he set the fires in were Howard County, Frederick County, and Prince George’s County. He was convicted of the cases against him in Howard County that included three house fires and one car fire between March 2017 and September 2018.

Crawford served as a major in the Prince George’s County Police Department, chief of the District Heights Police, and chief of the Laurel police department before resigning in 2010.

“What he did was really ugly, and he deserves every second of the sentence that has been imposed upon him,” said Howard County State’s Attorney Richard Gibson in a statement to WTOP.

Police discovered it was Crawford with security footage of some of the fires. Investigators noticed that the fires were started by similar methods and by a person wearing the same clothing in each video.

According to WTOP News, police searched Crawford’s home in January 2021 and discovered a “target list” of the victims, who include government or law enforcement officials, as well as a relative and two of his former doctors, police said.

There was a racial animus behind at least one attack. NPR reports one entry on his target list said “White Privilege.” Prosecutors said Crawford’s wife had been removed from a special advocate program when she disputed the concept of white privilege during training, and in retaliation, Crawford set a car on fire at the program director’s home.

“To boil it down to its core, each of the fires was in response to a perceived relatively minor slight that most people would just ignore, dust off,” Gibson said to WTOP.

Howard County Circuit Court Judge Richard S. Bernhardt’s decision allowed some of the life sentences to be served at the same time. In total, the sentence amounts to two life sentences plus the years for arson.

“These families have waited several years for justice, and we are grateful to play some part in delivering that for them. It is particularly egregious that someone who dedicated their life to law enforcement and was the chief of police at some point in their career would take it upon themselves to engage in conduct that was evil and terrifying in its nature,” said Gibson to WTOP News.

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