BELFAST — Thirty-eight-year-old Derek Creasy admitted to setting fire to Ron Turner’s mobile home at 30 Turner Court in Unity Dec. 22, 2020, and then again on the night of Dec. 26. The second fire Creasy set destroyed Turner’s home.

In an Aug. 13 sentencing hearing, Superior Court Judge Robert Murray accepted Creasy’s change of plea to guilty, and also accepted the attorneys’ agreed sentence of seven years.

Creasy initially was charged with attempted murder and two counts of arson in connection with the incidents, but agreed to a plea deal with Assistant District Attorney William Entwistle. The deal brokered between Entwistle and Stephen Smith, Creasy’s attorney allowed him to serve seven years concurrent for two counts of arson and dismissed the attempted murder charge.

Murray noted that the arson charges are Class A offenses carrying a maximum sentence of 30 years each.

During the police investigation, Turner said Creasy’s sister, Danielle, had stolen approximately $10,000 from his bank account while the two lived together. Danielle pled guilty and was required to pay the money back to Turner. According to a police affidavit, Creasy had joked with his sister about burning Turner’s house down.

A police search of Creasy’s Unity apartment resulted in the seizure of boots consistent with the boot prints taken at the crime scene, a sharp object consistent with the knife used to puncture Turner’s truck tires, DNA matching a sample taken from Creasy and tire prints taken from a car belonging to Creasy’s girlfriend at the time, which was consistent with the vehicle seen on a security camera at the scene. 

When police examined Creasy’s Facebook communications with his sister immediately after the Dec. 26 fire, they found a post in which he said, “How do you like your Christmas present?”

The acceptance of responsibility without the need to go to trial was a key factor in the state’s rationale behind the recommended sentence, according to Entwistle. Furthermore, he said, the sentence was “reasonable and appropriate” in comparison to other similar cases in the district.

Turner’s family saw it differently. Several members of the Turner family attended the Waldo Judicial Center hearing and brought up Creasy’s extensive criminal history and time served as factors that should be taken into account in sentencing.

Entwistle listed Creasy’s criminal history beginning in 2001 with reckless conduct; 2008 burglary, theft, and criminal mischief; 2007 violation of conditions of release; 2008 burglary, theft; 2010 burglary and theft; 2014 burglary, theft and criminal mischief; and in 2013 refusing to submit to arrest.

In April of this year, Turner, 56, died after a long battle with health complications. A tearful Peggy Turner, Ron Turner’s mother, addressed the court, saying, “I’m left with a box with Ronnie’s ashes and a burned down trailer, because Derek wanted to give his sister a Christmas present.”

Turner was a diabetic, Peggy said, and “stress works against being able to control sugar levels… High sugar levels work against every organ — the heart, the eyes, the kidneys.”

“Yes, Derek and his sister put stress on my son,” she said. “…When will my children and others get another phone call because Derek wants to give his sister another gift.” Seven years is not acceptable for the crimes he has done, she said. “Please look at the laws, and do what is right.”

Turner’s sister Dawna Duclos said if Creasy had been successful the first time, “we would not be sitting here in court for an arson charge — we would be sitting here in court for a murder charge.”

Duclos said days after the second fire, the family was afraid “this was not over.” She said she purchased more smoke detectors for her mother’s home and also bought and installed video cameras.

“He has not learned from the past and just got out of jail,” she said. “Derek should be held to a higher standard due to his long criminal history.”

Turner’s sister Cynthia Jones asked, “Why did Derek Creasy want to burn my brother’s home?”

“My theory is that Derek may have been upset that his sister had to start paying my brother back for the money she stole from him… My brother received his first payment from Derek’s sister right around the time of the first arson attempt,” she said.

“Derek’s sister still has to pay back the money that she stole, to my brother’s estate,” Jones said. “That just so happens to be my mom.

“Who is to say when Derek gets released, that he won’t do the same actions to my mother or any of Ronnie’s family?” she asked. Jones went on to say she was concerned for her mother. “She shouldn’t have to fear for herself, or for her family, or for her community when Derek gets released.”

She asked the court to reconsider the agreement, and consider two separate counts of arson, each with a 10-year prison term for each, not served at the same time.

Creasy, speaking in court from the Waldo County Jail, said he held no vendetta or animosity against Ronald Turner’s family. “I’m really sorry,” he added. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”

Murray, delivering his sentencing remarks, said that Creasy had not been successful in reentering society without criminal activity “very soon after probation.” He has continued to commit criminal acts, he said, and because of that lack of success in the past, “I do not feel probation is warranted in this case…”

Ultimately Murray said the court accepted the recommendation of a straight seven years in jail, without probation, to be served concurrently for the two arson charges.