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Press Release

Baltimore Man Facing Federal Arson Charges for Allegedly Setting a House on Fire While Three People Were Inside

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland – A federal criminal complaint was filed yesterday charging Luther Moody Trent, age 21, of Baltimore, Maryland, for a federal charge of malicious destruction of property used in and affecting interstate commerce by fire, in connection with an arson at the rented home of his former girlfriend. 

The criminal complaint was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Acting Special Agent in Charge L.C. Cheeks, Jr. of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci; Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department; and Chief Niles R. Ford of the Baltimore City Fire Department.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, on May 21, 2021, at approximately 1:30 a.m., a fire was reported at a residence in the 1900 block of Linden Avenue in Baltimore.  The fire moved along the exterior and into the rear of the residence where it set a raised wooden deck ablaze, and then moved inside the building, doing substantial damage to the residence, as well as damaging the adjoining property.  The home was rented to three individuals, Victim 1, Victim 2, and Victim 3, all of whom were in the residence at the time of the fire.  Baltimore Fire Investigators determined that the fire was intentionally set and that the origin of the fire was under the wooden deck in the back of the residence.

A Baltimore Police detective interviewed Victim 1 shortly after the arson.  Victim 1 told the detective about threatening text messages she had received from Trent, with whom she had prior volatile romantic relationship, resulting in police being called on at least one occasion.  An order of protection had also been issued in favor of Victim 1.  The detective was able to find video of a prior incident with Trent and Victim 1 in March 2021.  Upon viewing Trent in the video, the detective realized that Trent had approached him earlier at the scene of the arson and identified himself as “Trey Johnson.”  At the time, Trent was shirtless, wearing glasses and jeans, and inquired about his cousin, whom he claimed resided in the residence.  The detective noted that “Trey Johnson” was acting nervous and left the scene shortly thereafter driving a two-door black Honda Accord.  Victim 1 confirmed that Trent drives a two-door black Honda and indicated that his cousin had not lived at the residence in several months.  

Law enforcement recovered video surveillance recordings from a variety of sources and vantage points in the area of the fire.  In one surveillance video, a figure is seen walking up the street toward the residence at approximately 1:30 a.m., just prior to the fire.  Two minutes later, just after the fire was set, an individual, who appears to be shirtless, is seen running down the street, away from the residence.  Other video surveillance footage shows a black two door Honda circling the area after the fire.

If convicted, Trent faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for malicious destruction of a commercial property by fire.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.  Trent is currently detained on related state charges.  An initial appearance in U.S. District Court has not yet been scheduled.

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. 

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the ATF, the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Baltimore City Fire Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok, who is prosecuting the federal case.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

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Contact

Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated February 4, 2022

Topic
Violent Crime