BANGOR – Life, plus 30 years.
That was the sentence for a local man who locked two homeless people inside a van parked underneath the Penobscot Bridge and then set it on fire.
John De St. Croix, 26, was sentenced Tuesday for setting the fire that claimed the lives of Desiree York, 36, and Michael “Georgia” Bridges.
“They screamed for help,” said Justice Ann Murray, during the sentencing. “And one of the very prominent factors, in this case, is the defendant stood by while that screaming stopped.”
“He did nothing for 12 minutes but stand by and watch as that fire grew and engulfed the rider truck,” said Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who prosecuted the case along with Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani.
Video surveillance cameras from the nearby Penobscot Plaza strip mall caught the fire starting at around 10 p.m. on March 28, 2018. Eight minutes later, De St. Croix called 911. When police and firefighters arrived they tried to do resuscitate the couple, but it was too late.
“How could somebody just sit there and watch that,” York’s sister, Torie York, told the judge through tears. “Takes a heartless, cold individual to do something like that.”
De St. Croix was found guilty nine months ago of two counts of knowing or intentional murder, two counts of felony murder and one count of arson. In addition to life for the murders, the judge sentenced him to 30 years, the maximum penalty for the arson.
“Our client actually expected that,” said Jeffrey Toothaker, who represented De St. Croix with attorney David Bate.
“The family is not the same. It’s torn us all apart,” Torie York said, adding there has not been a family gathering in the last two years.
York is survived by a daughter, now age 8, who is being raised by her grandmother.
“I thank God that I have her. That I’m the one to raise her, you know, because she keeps me sane.,” said Beverly York, the mother of Desiree York.
“She was always happy, always outgoing. She was very high spirits,” said her brother, Dallas York.
He added later, “She was an awesome sister.”
Bridge’s older brother said he is missing him a ton, and in the time since his death has reconnected and visited his brother’s daughter and grandchild.
“He’s in a better place with God looking over him,” Mark Bridges said, standing on the court steps. “I’m just glad it’s over with.”
York’s mother agreed she’s in a better place.
“I know my daughter is resting in peace now,” Beverly York said.