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'King of hearts' arsonist gets time served in York-area domestic assault case

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

One of southern York County's "king of hearts" car arsonists has avoided more prison time for a domestic encounter with his estranged wife.

Alexander Justin Bedour Robb, 30, of New Freedom, appeared in York County Court on Wednesday, where he pleaded no contest to the misdemeanors of making terroristic threats and simple assault, according to court records.

In exchange for his plea, felony charges of kidnapping and strangulation were dropped, court records state. People who plead no contest, or nolo contendere, aren't admitting guilt and instead are saying they won't contest the charges against them. 

Robb was sentenced to 301 days to 23 months in York County Prison, which was a time-served sentence, plus an additional two years of probation, according to court records.

Alexander Robb

Presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness ordered Robb to have no contact whatsoever with the victim in the case.

Defense attorney Ed Paskey said the resolution was fair and made sense.

"It's pretty difficult to conclude a kidnapping/false imprisonment occurred when the parties are texting/calling each other during the alleged incident, along with engaging in other consensual activities," he told The York Dispatch. "We shared a great deal of information with (prosecutors) throughout this case that they didn't possess. That information included text messages, cellphone records and other digital evidence.

"It became evident that the initial accusations were far from accurate or complete."

The allegations: Police alleged Robb threatened the woman, choked her and held her against her will in a Spring Garden Township home on Aug. 5, 2019, purportedly angry that she had a new boyfriend.

Robb was also accused of grabbing her arms, hitting her, pushing her and throwing her, according to court documents.

She had an active  protection from abuse order against him at the time, police said.

Police said Robb told her that he would kill her, her boyfriend, her family and everything she loves. The woman suffered visible injuries including bruises to her head, face, arms and legs, according to court documents.

Arson spree: Robb was one of two men behind a 14-month spree of vehicle fires in southern York County that were dubbed the "king of hearts" arsons because the men left playing cards at the scene and also because investigators initially were unsure whether the fires were related to high-school charity dance with the same name.

Alexander Robb

The fires — which began in December 2009 and continued until February 2011 — were unrelated to the canceled student dance, police later determined. Police said Robb and Michael Nalls targeted parked vehicles in municipalities including Glen Rock, Shrewsbury and New Freedom as well as Windsor, Hopewell and Penn townships and in Baltimore.

The men were sentenced to 2½ to five years in York County Prison, followed by nine years of probation, and were ordered to pay about $124,000 in restitution. Robb still owes thousands of dollars in restitution, according to court records.

In Baltimore, fire jumped from a vehicle they torched to a home, causing significant damage, authorities have said.

Blamed each other: Robb and Nalls each blamed the other for starting the fires and claimed to be merely the lookout, but the presiding judge said he suspected both men were lying.

One victim who spoke at the men's sentencing hearing said she never felt afraid to live in the Glen Rock area until the men torched her family's Jeep and left an ace of hearts playing card near her front door with a smiley face drawn on it and the words "see you next time."

Another victim told the judge that her six children were afraid to sleep at night and even afraid at school. She said her family installed a home security system within 24 hours of their vehicle being torched.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify the relationship between the defendant and his victim.

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