Arsonist gets 24 life terms in prison

June 30, 2011 at 10:39 AM
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ROCKVILLE, Md., June 30 (UPI) -- The man who tried to kill a Maryland police officer by setting a fire in his apartment building has been sentenced to 24 life terms, court officials said.

"You, Mr. Masters, are pure evil," Montgomery County Circuit Judge Nelson Rupp told Raven Masters at a sentencing hearing Wednesday.

Masters, 30, was to appear in court the day he set the fire in the Germantown apartment where officer John Distel lived with his family. Distel had arrested Masters April 4, 2009, in a burglary that at most would have netted him just six months in jail.

Prosecutors said Masters entered the apartment building where Distel and 23 others lived early the morning he was to appear in court on burglary charges. He cut off the sprinklers, closed circuit breakers and removed the batteries in emergency hallway lights before dousing the building with gasoline and homemade napalm.

Masters ignited the gas and fled and the resulting explosion woke up Distel and his neighbors, who were all able to escape unharmed.

Rupp sentenced Masters to 24 life terms on two-dozen attempted murder convictions.

"That was the first time in my career that I was ever scared to be the police," Distel said in court.

Distel said the "danger and the fear" that he felt during the fire was worse than anything he'd seen in combat in Iraq.

Masters said police framed him and he appeared unfazed by his situation, the Post said.

"The judge is going to smack me over the head with whatever he's going to give me," Masters said in a jail visitation room Monday night. "Let's get on to the appeals process."

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