Two men have entered guilty pleas in a case involving a Molotov cocktail attack on an Eastern Shore home.
The incident happened Oct. 14, 2020, when an ignited gas-filled Snapple bottle was thrown at a home in the Chester Harbor community of northern Queen Anne’s County while a family was asleep inside, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
As the incident unfolded, the home’s occupants heard the outdoor commotion and saw the glow of the fire, prompting them to call 911 and then escape the house unharmed.
One of the suspects, 37-year-old Mardell Adkins, dropped his cellphone at the scene and the photo set as the screensaver helped connect Adkins to the investigation.
The fire marshal’s office said Adkins admitted to driving 43-year-old Edward C. Gaines III of New Castle to Queen Anne’s County and watching Gaines throw the Molotov cocktail at the home, which was where Gaines’ ex-girlfriend lived.
Investigators obtained surveillance footage from a Royal Farms that showed Gaines buying a Snapple bottle, emptying its contents and filling it with gasoline. The investigation also revealed Gaines had previously threatened his ex-girlfriend, saying that he “would burn her house down,” according to the fire marshal’s office.
Gaines pleaded guilty May 27 to manufacturing and possession of a destructive device, and his sentencing is set for Aug. 16. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Adkins pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit reckless endangerment and was sentenced to five years in prison with all but 126 days suspended followed by two years of supervised probation. He agreed to be a state witness in exchange for that plea deal.
Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Lance Richardson called the crime a “nefarious and evil scheme,” according to the fire marshal’s office, and the victim who spoke in court of her fear of Gaines asked that he be given a lengthy sentence come August.