Little Rock Man Receives Max Sentence for Coffee Shop Fires

A Little Rock man, Trent Smith, has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for arson after setting two coffee shops on fire in March 2022. The 50-year-old was found with an overturned can of gas in the bathroom, similar to two 2-gallon Scepter-brand gas cans purchased from Walmart off East McCain Boulevard. The owner of the Grind Coffee Bistro ended her relationship with Smith a few days before the fires, and on February 26, 2022, he “physically assaulted the victim.”

Smith had a substantial and violent criminal history, having been convicted in 2016 in Saline County for aggravated assault on a family or household member and terroristic threatening in the first degree after he attacked a victim, threatened to kill her, and drove a car into the residence attempting to strike her. He then fled to Kentucky, where he was convicted of first-degree wanton endangerment. Smith also had prior convictions for aggravated assault and second-degree battery for an incident where multiple officers were injured, battery in the third degree involving domestic violence, and unlawfully possessing a firearm.

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Jonathan D. Ross, expressed gratitude for the maximum sentence and the court’s decision to sentence Smith to 20 years in federal prison. During the sentencing, the victim spoke about the violence inflicted by Smith against her and hoped to protect others from him by coming forward to speak.

Smith was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 5, 2022, in a two-count indictment charging him with the use of a fire/explosive to damage or destroy property with injury to persons. He pleaded guilty to one count on July 25, 2023, and the remaining count was dismissed.

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