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Deliberations begin for arson case
by Kelsie Smith
Canandaigua, N.Y. - The jury is deliberating in the trial of a man accused of hiring someone to burn down a home for insurance money.
Samuel Crawford is on trial in Ontario County accused of hiring, along with his wife Shallamar Hayward-Crawford, William Bradley Jr to burn down their home in the city of Canandaigua.
All three are facing felony charges of arson in the 3rd degree, two counts of arson in the 4th degree, and attempted insurance fraud.
Bradley pled guilty to starting the fire on Monday, saying Crawford and his wife paid him $1000 to burn down the house at 41 Saltonstall Street three days before Christmas 2013.
The fire spread to two neighboring homes.
"My whole window was just a blaze," said Florrie Lodico who lives next door and was home with two other people including her granddaughter at the time. "I could see the fire through the window."
Crawford was the only witness for the defense to take the stand Wednesday. He testified that everything on the police interrogation tapes regarding his involvement in the crime was not true. He said he only said he was involved because he thought it would protect his wife. "The only mistake I made was letting Bill into my house that night," said Crawford while on the stand.
The house on Saltonstall Street owned by Shallamar Hayward-Crawford was not occupied. It was in the process of being rented out the night of the fire.
In court it came out that the homeowners insurance had been increase eleven days before the fire.
During closing arguments the defense attorney, Robert Tucker, brought up this fact. "[They] had to change [insurance] policy because they [Crawford's] were changing from homeowner's policy to landlord," he explained.
But in the First Assistant District Attorney Brian Dennis' closing argument he pointed out Bradley admitted to starting the fire because of the money Crawford and his wife paid him.
"He [William Bradley Jr] would have never ever done it without prize money, without the thought of Christmas coming," he argued.
If convicted Crawford could face a maximum of 15 years in prison. A higher sentence because he was on parole at the time of the fire. Shallamar Hayward-Crawford's trial is set to start next month. Bradley will be sentenced in September.