Serial arsonist sentenced to 20 years | KOB 4

Serial arsonist sentenced to 20 years

Marian Camacho and Erica Zucco
April 26, 2018 10:29 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Albuquerque man who admitted to starting fires at local businesses across the metro area will spend 20 years behind bars, which was the maximum sentence allowed under his plea deal.


David Hickman had pleaded guilty to setting five fires over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2016. One of those blazes nearly destroyed the Carlisle condominium construction project in Nob Hill.

Hickman also pleaded guilty to setting the other fires at a Barnes and Noble, Old Navy, Shred It documents shredding business, and a Starbucks on Gibson.

"Today a dangerous individual who terrorized the residents of Albuquerque in November of 2016 through a series of deliberate and premeditated violent acts that targeted innocent victims was sentenced for the devastating damage and destruction he maliciously caused," U.S. Attorney John Anderson said.

Hickman was arrested in the early morning hours of Nov. 26, 2016, and has been in federal custody ever since. According to the district attorney’s office, he attempted several other arsons. 

Among the buildings torched was Project Defending Life, a nonprofit that helps pregnant women in need. Hickman burned down their building and a chapel attached.

Hickman never gave authorities a reason as to why he set all of the fires.

"When you don't know why something has happened to you, it's hard to know what to expect in the future," said Kathleen Welker of Project Defending Life. "If he had a short sentence, would he come back and hit the same places he hit before? Would he go on to terrorize the rest of the community in ways that we can't fathom because we don't understand him?"

Hickman must also pay for what he destroyed, though how or when he'll do it remains up in the air. Attorneys revealed he had a hit list in his car with more targets, including Presbyterians, Mormons and St Jude's. But Hickman still hasn't shared his motivation or whether anyone else was involved.

"He could have gone anywhere from here, and at least we have the gratification that he's off the streets for 20 years," Welker said. "And hopefully gets the help he needs because he's a very disturbed young man."

Hickman's family was also in the courtroom. They gave letters to the judge saying he had always been kind and generous, and they were surprised he would do this. The judge did agree to recommend he be sent to a prison facility in California so he could be near his sister.

After receiving his sentence, Hickman simply said: "Thank you, your honor."

“The arrest, prosecution, and sentencing was yet another example of a successful collaboration between our local, state, and federal agencies working together to protect our citizens and great city,” said Albuquerque Fire Chief Paul Dow of the Albuquerque Fire Department.”


Marian Camacho and Erica Zucco

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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