- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2005

BALTIMORE — The man accused of masterminding the largest residential arson in Maryland history was convicted yesterday in federal court on all counts for his role in setting the fires that caused $10 million in damage to an upscale suburban housing development of mostly black homeowners.

Patrick S. Walsh, 21, was convicted of 34 counts of arson and one count of conspiracy.

The trial was the first prosecution of a member of a group accused of causing the blaze in Charles County. Two other men pleaded guilty.

The jury found that Walsh planned and helped set more than two dozen fires Dec. 6 at the Hunters Brooke development in Indian Head.

Most of the houses were under construction and unoccupied. No one was hurt, but 10 homes were destroyed and 16 severely damaged.

Walsh faces between five and 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, if he serves his sentence concurrently. U.S. District Judge Roger Titus set a Dec. 5 sentencing date.

Family members sobbed and hugged in the back of the courtroom while the lengthy verdict was read.

William Purpura, Walsh’s attorney, declined to comment about the possibility of appeal.

Jurors, who deliberated about seven hours over two days, declined to talk with reporters.

“The jury appropriately evaluated the evidence and held Mr. Walsh accountable for his role in this horrific crime,” U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said. “Although the harm suffered by the victims cannot be erased, it is important that the perpetrators be held accountable.”

Walsh is the first of five persons charged in the case to face trial.

Jeremy Daniel Parady and Aaron Lee Speed pleaded guilty. In his plea agreement, Parady said he targeted Hunters Brooke because of its racial makeup. But when he testified at Walsh’s trial, Parady denied repeatedly that he was motivated by racism.

All five men accused in the crime are white.

Prosecutors painted Walsh as a man fascinated with fire and explosives who plotted and carried out the arson to gain attention for a gang he had formed. Parady testified during the trial that Walsh was at Hunters Brooke early Dec. 6 and helped light the fires.

The two remaining defendants are Michael M. Everhart and Roy T. McCann Jr. A trial has been scheduled for both men Feb. 21 in Greenbelt.

A sentencing date for Speed and Parady was set for Oct. 18.

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