Lawyer: Concord man accused of lighting sister on fire may be mentally unfit for trial

  • Dwayne Crawford via Concord police

Monitor staff
Published: 12/27/2016 10:17:30 PM

The Concord man who police said lit his twin sister on fire this month was deemed unfit to stand trial in a separate case in 2015 because of his mental health, according to court documents.

Concord Circuit Court Judge Kristin Spath ordered Dec. 16 that Dwayne Crawford should be evaluated again as to whether he’s competent to stand trial now for attempted murder.

Police said the 37-year-old doused his sister in gasoline and ignited her Dec. 15, causing third-degree burns and spreading fire to the 66 Woodbine Ave. home where she lived. He confessed to the crime at the scene, according to Concord police Officer Brendan Ryder’s sworn affidavit.

Crawford’s attorney, Melinda Siranian, wrote in a Dec. 16 motion that she “believes there is a legitimate question relative to (his) competency to stand trial.” The motion was granted the same day.

Siranian asked that the state’s Office of the Forensic Examiner perform a mental health evaluation on Crawford, who “has previously been found not competent to stand trial by this Honorable Court in early 2015,” she noted.

The competency evaluation is scheduled for Feb. 9.

Crawford is charged with attempted murder, arson, first-degree assault, reckless conduct and criminal mischief.

In a previous case, he was charged in December 2014 with simple assault and resisting arrest at his then-apartment on Pitman Street in Concord, when police said he struggled with and attempted to fight officers responding to his home. Both of those charges were dismissed, however – apparently because he was deemed unfit to stand trial.

Crawford’s attorney is ordered to send her client’s psychiatric records to the forensic examiner in the coming weeks, according to court documents associated with the case. Those records and the result of the evaluation will be sealed.

All other issues pertaining to the case, except for bail and status of counsel, will be stayed pending the competency evaluation, the order says. Crawford’s probable cause hearing, which was scheduled for today, Dec. 28, has been canceled.

When police arrived at the burning Woodbine Avenue home before 3 a.m. on Dec. 15, they found Tamika Crawford, who is Dwayne’s twin sister, lying in a snowbank outside with most of her upper body severely burned. Her two young boys and Dwayne Crawford were standing nearby.

Ryder, who was one of the first officers on the scene, asked Dwayne Crawford what had happened. Crawford replied, nodding at his sister, “I did it, I lit her on fire,” according to the police report.

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

Crawford was listed in the criminal complaints as living at the 66 Woodbine Ave. home. But his case summary filed at the circuit court lists him as homeless.

He was ordered held without bail at the Merrimack County jail pending his competency evaluation.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)

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