A man who has admitted he helped torch a Southern Maryland subdivision last year implicated his acquaintance Patrick S. Walsh in the crime Friday, providing a jury with the first account that places Walsh at the scene of one of the state's largest arsons.
Jeremy D. Parady, who pleaded guilty in April, testified at Walsh's trial in federal court in exchange for leniency. Parady, 21, said he monitored a police scanner and served as a driver while Walsh and others set fire to unoccupied houses in Hunters Brooke, an upscale development under construction about 30 miles south of Washington, before dawn Dec. 6.
Yet Parady also admitted that he lied under oath repeatedly in a pretrial hearing, lied to investigators and falsely implicated former friends.
"I listed a bunch of old friends and old associates that I was no longer talking to," Parady said, acknowledging that he had misled the investigators. "I was throwing out names, trying to help myself."
Parady also testified that, in the hours before the fires, he had consumed two six-packs of beer and "no more than" six shots of rum.
"You must be the best drunken wheelman in Waldorf, right?" asked William B. Purpura, an attorney for Walsh.
"I've driven numerous times intoxicated," Parady replied.
Parady insisted that, despite the many lies he told after the fires, his testimony Friday was truthful. "I'm cooperating because it is the right thing to do," he said. "I'm accepting my responsibility in this arson."
The fires damaged or destroyed more than two dozen unoccupied houses at the predominantly black development in Indian Head, and they fueled a perception that racial hostility persisted in Charles County. Walsh, 21, and Parady, a former volunteer firefighter, are among five young men who were charged with conspiracy and numerous counts of arson.
Parady has pleaded guilty to one count of arson, admitting in court that he targeted the development because a large number of black people were buying homes there.
Prosecutors recommended a prison term just short of 10 years, but U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus delayed the sentencing, saying he needed to know more about Parady's role in the "extraordinarily heinous" crime.
Parady signed an agreement Friday morning under which he would testify against Walsh, the first defendant to go to trial, in exchange for leniency.
Parady testified that he had decided to reform his life and agreed to take part in the fires only on the condition that the other participants then leave him alone. Despite his admission in April, Parady denied that he was a racist or that race was a motivating factor for him.
"And the jury should believe that?" Purpura asked.
"Yes, sir," Parady said.
"As much as they should believe all your testimony about Patrick Walsh?"