Life Sacrificed to Aid Arson Plan
One of the longest prison sentences ever given in a Connecticut court for an attempt made to collect insurance by the destruction of life, was passed on John D. Lawson, of Westport, Conn. Judge Newell Jennings of the Superior Court in session at Bridgeport sentenced Lawson to from seventeen to twenty-five years in Wethersfield prison after he pleaded guilty to a charge of assault with intent to murder in connection with total destruction of his home on Imperial avenue, Westport.
The original charges against Lawson were arson and burning a dwelling with intent to kill. The mandatory sentence for ihe charge of burning a dwelling with intent to kill carries a life penalty according to Connectic_____ law. Instead of waiting to be indicted by a grand jury on these charges, Lawson compromised and pleaded guilty to assault with intent to murder and received the lighter penalty.
Lawson, a Dartmouth alumnus, former exporter and a wellknown figure in art circles, hired a painter to do some interior work in his home. It was his plan to administer drugs and liquor to the painter, set the house on fire and then collect $77,000 insurance. The charred remains of the painter were to represent the body of Lawson. The plan did not work out as arranged. The house was set on fire but the painter forced a chloroform-soaked rag from his face and in a half-dazed stupor managed to escape by jumping from a second-story window. His story to the police along with the discovery of a kerosene oil can by a fireman, led to Lawson’s arrest.