Arsonist sentenced to two life sentences for fatal Carolina Beach fires

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A photograph taken from the fire at 409 Carolina Beach Ave. S. on the night Marshall Doran was captured and arrested. Photos courtesy of the district attorney's office.
A photograph taken from the fire at 409 Carolina Beach Ave. S. on the night Marshall Doran was captured and arrested. Photos courtesy of the district attorney’s office.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Marshall Hudson Doran, 23, will serve life in prison for a series of vehicle fires in December 2014, one of which completely demolished a Carolina Beach condo killing two women, four pets and injuring several other residents.

Doran entered an Alford plea Thursday morning in New Hanover County Superior Court to two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree arson. In an Alford plea, a defendant admits no guilt but acknowledges he will be sentenced as if he were guilty.

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge W. Allen Cobb Jr. sentenced him to two life sentences in the N.C. Department of Corrections. Doran was charged with the murders of 72-year-old Mary Angeline Cochran and 43-year-old Darlene Ann Maslar, both of whom died in a fire at a condo complex at 409 Carolina Beach Ave. S. on Dec. 6, 2014.

Kure Beach man charged with first-degree murder in Carolina Beach fires

On that day, Carolina Beach police and fire departments responded to three separate vehicles fires. The first fire was reported at the Carolina Beach Avenue condo at 2:28 a.m. The second fire was reported at 3:45 a.m. at 811 Carolina Beach Ave. S., and the third was reported at 4:34 a.m. at 1123 S. Lake Park Blvd.

The flames from two of the vehicles spread to nearby structures, including the Carolina Beach Avenue condo where the bodies of Cochran and Maslar were later found in the rubble. Doran quickly became a person of interest in the case and was arrested as crews battled the fires.

Marshall Hudson Doran
Marshall Hudson Doran

In February 2015, Doran was indicted on the two first-degree murder charges, in addition to more than 30 other felony charges, including attempted first-degree murder, first-degree arson and cruelty to animals. District Attorney Ben David announced in April 2015, he intended seek the death penalty in the case. In January, David announced the state was going to work with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to re-create the fatal Carolina Beach fire.

In exchange for Thursday’s plea, the state did not proceed capitally on the murder cases and dismissed all other charges associated with the three fires, David said.

Read other coverage of the case: