Sean Nicholas Murphy, aged 27, who formerly resided at 624 Caspian Drive in Grasonville, Maryland, pled guilty to attempted malicious burning in the First Degree and Reckless Endangerment, and was sentenced to a total of 10 years in prison with the sentence suspended after being ordered to serve one year in the local detention center, on January 19, 2018, for events which occurred back on September 17, 2017.
Mr. Murphy pled guilty and was sentenced before the Honorable Thomas G. Ross, Judge of and for the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County. The case was prosecuted by Lance G. Richardson, State’s Attorney for Queen Anne’s County. Mr. Murphy was represented by defense counsel Mandeep Chhabra of Annapolis.
The details of the incident involved Mr. Murphy setting fire to his neighbor’s house using a small can of gasoline as an accelerant. Mr. Murphy set fire to his neighbor’s house and then fled back to his own residence. During his retreat from setting the fire two other neighbors who were grilling food saw Murphy running with the gas can and then shortly after saw smoke rising from the nearby home. The victim, and homeowner, was sleeping at the time that Murphy set fire to her house. Fortunately a Good Samaritan who saw the fire knocked on the homeowner’s door which awoke her from the nap. He then assisted her in extinguishing the fire by using a garden hose. Shortly after the fire was extinguished Mr. Murphy returned to the house and offered to do home improvement repairs from the fire damage. State’s Attorney Richardson speculated that Murphy set the fire with the intention of generating home improvement work for himself. After learning of the witnesses seeing Murphy fleeing with a gas can from the crime scene Deputy State Fire Marshall Brad Childress interviewed Murphy and obtained a confession from Murphy, after he was advised of his rights. Murphy told Childress he had been drinking and he offered no plausible explanation for his arson activities. Rather he stated he was simply being “drunk and stupid.”
Murphy had no previous criminal history and he will be on three years of supervised probation after serving his jail sentence. He was ordered to remain abstinent from alcohol and not to return to his former residence. Murphy indicated he is relocating out of Queen Anne’s County after his release from incarceration.
State’s Attorney Lance Richardson stated that “drunk and stupid, coupled with gasoline and arson will not be tolerated in Queen Anne’s County” and he thanked the Good Samaritan, John Hooks, who helped extinguish the fire and also Deputy State Fire Marshall Brad Childress for his excellent work investigating the case.