Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm sentenced Richard Butler III, age 36, of Landover, Maryland today to 243 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for being a felon in possession of an explosive; malicious use of explosive materials; and transportation of explosive materials with intent to kill, injure, or intimidate, in connection with the attempted firebombing of his girlfriend’s apartment.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Rob Cekada of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Chief Benjamin M. Barksdale; and Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
According to his plea agreement, on March 4, 2016, at 3:25 a.m., the Prince George’s County Fire Department (PGFD) were called to an apartment complex in Landover, Maryland for an automated general fire alarm, and located the remnants of a fire in the master bedroom of apartment 102. The fire had been extinguished by the fire sprinkler system prior to the arrival of the PGFD. Firefighters discovered that the master bedroom window had been broken and requested fire investigators from the Prince George’s County Fire Investigations Division to examine the apartment.
Fire investigators located a concrete brick inside the master bedroom on the floor between the bed and window and near the brick, an improvised incendiary device—specifically, a clear plastic water bottle containing an unknown liquid, and a paper towel protruding from the mouth of the bottle. A similar plastic bottle was found melted to the top of the burned bed. Outside, investigators located a blue plastic one-quart motor oil container. The ATF Forensic Science Laboratory examined the plastic bottles, which revealed the presence of gasoline.
At the time of the incident, two adults and three minors were in the apartment, which was leased by Butler’s girlfriend. She was not in the apartment at that time of the fire because she was at the Prince George’s County Police Department in connection with a complaint of sexual abuse involving Butler and her minor daughter. Butler’s girlfriend reported that she had last seen Butler at 11:28 p.m. and he was a wearing a black coat, blue jeans, and red, white, and blue sneakers.
Investigators reviewed surveillance videos from a nearby gas station which showed an individual wearing the clothing described by Butler’s girlfriend who pumped gas into three containers—two of which appeared to be clear plastic water bottles, and the third, a blue container which he retrieved from a trash can located next to the pump. The individual then entered the restroom and exited with paper towels in his hand, got a white plastic bag from the cashier and placed the containers in the plastic bag and walked away. During an interview with investigators on March 7, 2016, Butler’s girlfriend was shown a screen-capture from the gas station’s surveillance footage of the individual standing near the gas pumps, which she identified as Butler.
A subsequent review of the ATF National Firearms Registrations and Transfer Records determined that there were no destructive devices legally registered to Butler. In addition, Butler was prohibited from possessing destructive devices due to a previous felony conviction.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur praised the ATF, the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, and the Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer R. Sykes, who prosecuted the case.
The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.
To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at email@example.com
Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II