Arsonist Sentenced To 37 Years For Death Of Fellow University Of Maryland Student

Saturday, March 31st 2007, 5:43 pm
By: News On 6

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) _ A man who admitted setting a house fire that killed a fellow University of Maryland student has been sentenced to 37 1/2 years in prison.

Daniel C. Murray, 21, was sentenced Friday for murder and other charges from the April 2005 fire that killed Michael A. Scrocca, 22.

Scrocca, a finance major from Branchburg, N.J., was found dead in his second-floor bedroom of the off-campus College Park home. His housemates escaped, including one who jumped out a second-floor window and suffered serious burns.

According to court records and testimony, Murray walked by the house, where a party was taking place, about two hours before the fire was set. He was taunted was possibly shoved by a partygoer who challenged his manhood. Murray returned later and poured gasoline on a couch on the porch and set it on fire.

In court Friday, Murray spoke briefly, his voice barely audible.

``Your Honor, I'm terribly sorry for what happened,'' Murray said. ``I never intended to hurt anyone.''

Circuit Court Judge Thomas P. Smith said he was disturbed that about half a dozen of Murray's friends and acquaintances knew for a year what had happened and said nothing. After police received an anonymous tip in May 2006, Murray confessed and his friends told police what they knew.

Smith said Murray, of Hurlock, tried to manipulate the outcome of his case by asking other detainees to have their girlfriends testify they saw someone else light the fire. He later pleaded guilty.