Man torches ex-girlfriend's home; says plea deals like his send wrong message to Baltimore
Man admits to lighting his ex-girlfriend's house on fire talks about plea deal. (Photo: WBFF)

A man who pleaded guilty to burning his ex-girlfriend’s house down with her in it and faced just one criminal charge, says plea deals like his are sending the wrong message to criminals in Baltimore.

Luther Trent pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree arson after setting the home of his ex-girlfriend, Alexis, on fire in May 2021. He also faced three counts of attempted homicide since Alexis and her two roommates were home sleeping at the time of the fire.

“I went to the side of the house and poured gasoline on the side of the house,” Trent said. “The love of my life is in Baltimore. I know where she lives at and I can’t even talk to her. Can’t say nothing to her. In my head, it was some Romeo and Juliet type of thing – if I can’t have you, no one can have you, at least in Baltimore.”

Trent was released from jail after serving less than six months thanks to a plea deal from the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. Trent was originally charged with 18 felonies, he said, including three attempted-murder charges but ultimately pleaded down to one arson charge, given a 10-year suspended sentence.

“I was in shock. I didn't really know what to feel,” Alexis said in December. “It doesn't seem like justice was served, it feels like a political game, but not my justice.

Alexis said the prosecutor handling her case called her before the plea deal was finalized “as a professional courtesy,” but her objections didn’t seem to matter.

Trent said he was equally as surprised to get released from custody.

“I was just charged with 18 different counts, that was dropped to 10, that was dropped to one. When I shouldn’t be out right now. I disrupted somebody’s life. I traumatized somebody because of how I felt in a situation,” Trent said. “Personally, yes, I want to be out but, principally, no I shouldn’t be out because I could have done a lot more damage than I did. I was expecting to get time; people who were in that situation, they should expect to get time.”

Trent was asked if the plea deal he got – and perhaps the others offered to people in Baltimore – send the wrong message to the community of Baltimore, a city that continues to grapple with violent crime and a homicide count that’s surpassed 300 for seven straight years.

“Oh yes, most definitely,” he said.

“That tells anybody that ‘I can go shoot somebody or I can attempt to shoot somebody, and I’ll be completely fine,'” Trent said. “It would empower me because I would be like, okay, this man just shot somebody, just blew his head off and he’s just out walking free. I can do anything I want. I can rob somebody, I can shoot somebody, I can do anything I want.”

Trent describes the crime as a situation that got carried away while under the influence of drugs. He said his friends convinced him to do it and owns his actions of the fire.

“I do take responsibility,” he said. “It wasn’t a sound decision; it wasn’t the best decision I was supposed to take.”

Roya Hanna, a former prosecutor in the state’s attorney’s office who is looking to unseat City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, said plea deals like this situation make it harder for the community to trust the system, vowing to listen to victims more if elected.

"It is pleas like these that embolden the criminal. It is pleas like these that destroy the city of Baltimore,” Hanna said. "On behalf of Alexis, I’m calling on the state's attorney's office to apologize to Alexis.”

When asked about the plea deal, a spokesperson for Mosby's Office said the agreement was given based on a lack of criminal background. 

"Based on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s lack of criminal record, we made an offer within the sentencing guidelines to secure a felony conviction and to ensure that the defendant remained under the supervision of the State with a court-ordered stay away from the victim," the spokesperson said. 

Meanwhile, Mosby continues to tout her prosecution and conviction record, especially for homicides. Thiru Vignarajah, a former city and federal prosecutor, said plea deals like this one count toward a conviction, even if the most serious crime – like attempted murder – is dropped.

"It's demoralizing to victims, it sends the wrong message to those considering coming forward,” he said. “To have the message sent that what, the prosecutors are overwhelmed, they can't take these cases seriously? We have to do better.”

Despite describing her case as “a miscarriage of justice,” Alexis said she did not want to stay silent.

“I'm speaking up because I want to get justice for me and I want it change,” Alexis said.

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