Charges dropped against Penacook man accused of lighting twin on fire

  • Dwayne Crawford —Courtesy

Monitor staff
Thursday, May 18, 2017

Charges against a Penacook man accused of lighting his twin sister on fire in December will be dismissed by prosecutors, according to a recent court order.

Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Diane Nicolosi wrote that the order will take effect when the defendant, Dwayne Crawford, is admitted to New Hampshire Hospital in Concord.

Crawford, 37, was found mentally incompetent to stand trial in February. Since then, the court has determined that his competency cannot be restored in the next 12 months with further mental health treatment. As a result, he will be involuntarily committed to the state’s psychiatric hospital.

Prosecutors presented the case against Crawford to a grand jury in mid-February despite the initial competency ruling. The grand jury handed up charges of attempted murder, arson, first-degree assault, reckless conduct and criminal mischief.

The indictments allege that Crawford tried to kill his sister, Tamika Crawford, by pouring flammable liquid on her and lighting it, also catching the 66 Woodbine Ave. home on fire. She suffered severe burns, requiring treatment at a Boston hospital.

Shortly after police arrived at the home before dawn Dec. 15, Crawford confessed to dousing his sister in gasoline and lighting her on fire, Concord police Officer Brendan Ryder wrote in a sworn affidavit.

“I did it, I lit her on fire,” Crawford told Ryder, according to court documents.

Ryder added: “As Dwayne stated this, he displayed very little affect and expressed no emotion.”

Last week, Nicolosi ordered all charges against Crawford dismissed without prejudice, meaning prosecutors could refile the case at a later date. The county attorney’s office can request follow-up mental health evaluations to determine Crawford’s ability to stand trial in the future.

In her order, Nicolosi references a confidential ruling handed down May 4 by the probate division of Concord’s district court. The ruling concerns non-emergency involuntary admissions for mental health services, and is under seal.

Crawford had been held at the Merrimack County jail in Boscawen for lack of $50,000 bail. According to jail records, he was transferred from the facility May 8.