Man charged in fatal Carolina Beach fire pleads guilty

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Thursday, August 4, 2016
Marshall Doran
Marshall Doran (image courtesy Raleigh-Wake City-County Bureau of Identification)

CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The man accused of starting several fires in Carolina Beach that killed two women plead guilty in court Thursday morning.

WWAY-TV reports 24-year-old Marshall Doran pleaded guilty to two counts of 1st degree murder and two counts of arson. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

Doran set three separate fires that heavily damaged two condominium buildings and cars at Carolina Beach in 2014. Prosecutors said 43-year-old Darlene Maslar and 72-year-old Mary Cochran died. A firefighter and several people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

By pleading guilty, Doran avoided a trial and a possible death sentence.

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Police say two fires at condominum complexes and another vehicle fire all appear to be linked.

Doran was also charged earlier in 2014 in Wake County after he allegedly killed two Good Samaritans in a DWI hit-and-run crash along Interstate 40 near Raleigh.

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Doran allegedly fled the scene after hitting 39-year-old Larry Kepley of Winston-Salem and 34-year-old Nathaniel Williams as they attempted to help drivers who lost control on the snow-covered interstate near the Wake-Johnston County line.

Doran was found hiding in a wooded area near his car.

Williams was a member of the U.S. Navy who was stationed at Fort Bragg for special training. He was living in Hope Mills, and had just returned from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan the month before.

Prosecutors said Doran - who was a University of North Carolina at Wilmington student at the time - was driving under the influence and had illegal drugs in his possession as he drove from the coast to visit a girlfriend in Chapel Hill for Valentine's Day.

Prosecutors said in Doran's car, investigators found a receipt for strawberries, chocolate, and a bottle of wine. They contend he drank the wine on the drive west.

He was charged with felony death by motor vehicle, hit and run, reckless driving, and DWI. His bond was originally set at $5 million, but was later lowered to $400,000 - allowing him to get out of jail.

That case is still pending.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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