Mercersburg Teen Sentenced in 2013 Arson Spree


WASHINGTON CO., Md. - The last of eight defendants to be sentenced for a 2013 arson spree in Washington County learned her fate in court Wednesday.

Sarah Couch, 19, will serve two weeks in jail, five years of probation and 300 hours of community service.

According to prosecutors, Couch pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit second-degree arson and one count of malicious destruction of property Wednesday.

"The judge ultimately sentenced Couch to two weeks in jail, although she did suspend the six years in prison. She also permitted Miss Couch to do her time in jail over a period of weekends,” Michele Hansen, a Washington County Assistant State's Attorney.

Couch is one of eight young adults who were involved in a rash of about 40 arson incidents that destroyed multiple vehicles, a garage and even a historic barn. It all took place from March to April of 2013. The dozens of fires the group was responsible for caused nearly $200,000 in damage.

"The damage was extensive,” said Hansen. “There's no precedent during my time in the office at the State's Attorney for this number of defendants involved with this number of arsons throughout our county."

Prosecutors say Couch was not involved in all of the arson incidents, but was involved in the intentional burning of two cars and a trashcan.

"She was present during that spree from the 22nd to the 23rd [of March 2013],” said Hansen. “Mr. Tyler Murray was the defendant who actually set fire."

Murray was given the harshest sentence out of the defendants: 15 years in state prison. Many of his co-defendants told authorities he was the ringleader and the one who actually started the fires. Two others were also sent to state prison. One was sentenced to 18 months in a detention center, and four defendants, including Couch, were given 14 day jail sentences.

It has been a long road for prosecutors, but finally this shocking case of arson has been resolved.

"The state is satisfied that the community is now safe,” said Hansen. “All of the co-defendants for all of these arsons have been found guilty, they’ve entered guilty pleas, and they've been sentenced either to jail or prison."

All of the co-defendants are responsible for paying thousands of dollars in restitution fees.

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