- The Washington Times - Friday, August 19, 2005

BALTIMORE — The accused mastermind of the largest case of residential arson in Maryland history made racist comments about the growth of the black community in Charles County, an acquaintance testified yesterday.

Jurors heard the testimony about arson suspect Patrick S. Walsh on the same day Carolyn Clark, a black woman who had purchased a house with her husband in the Hunters Brooke subdivision in Indian Head, described what happened to her home.

“It was burned completely down,” Mrs. Clark told the federal court jury.

Mr. Walsh, 21, faces conspiracy charges and multiple counts of arson for the fires that caused about $10 million in damage last year at the suburban community about 30 miles south of the District.

Anthony Fisher, a former Waldorf resident who knew Mr. Walsh from racing cars in rural Southern Maryland, testified that Mr. Walsh made disparaging remarks about black people “a few times” in the months before the blaze in the development where many black families had bought houses.

“That kind of struck me as odd because one of his closest friends was black,” Mr. Fisher testified during the third day of testimony in U.S. District Court.

Mr. Fisher said Mr. Walsh took an interest in a digital heat thermometer in a store a week before the fires. Prosecutor Timothy Atkins offered as evidence a picture of a thermometer similar to the one Mr. Walsh was looking at in the store.

Under cross examination by defense attorney William Purpura, Mr. Fisher said blacks and Hispanics often participate in the car races.

Mr. Fisher also said Mr. Walsh’s racist comments were not expressed directly to him, but he overheard Mr. Walsh make them. Mr. Purpura also suggested there was no significance in the case to the thermometer because people use them to search for ghosts in a house in the area thought to be haunted.

Mr. Walsh is accused of setting the fires in the pre-dawn hours of Dec. 6. His case is the first trial of five men accused of setting the fires.

Two, Aaron Lee Speed and Jeremy Daniel Parady, have pleaded guilty and may testify against Mr. Walsh.

An FBI agent who searched Mr. Walsh’s home also testified yesterday.

Special Agent Bridget Bigham described finding a copy of “The Anarchist’s Cookbook” at his Fort Washington home.

The 1970s-era text includes instructions on how to make explosives and Molotov cocktails. Miss Bigham read the table of contents to the jury, including an item about making plastic explosives from bleach.

Under questioning by Mr. Purpura, Miss Bigham said no accelerants were found at Mr. Walsh’s home.

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