A woman who burnt her boyfriend alive while he slept will serve 60 years in prison.
Michael Gonzales was sleeping in the early hours after celebrating turning 24 when partner Gina Virgilio, who was 25 at the time, attacked him in the Alaska home they shared.
Virgilio had walked a quarter of a mile from the house in Anchorage to the nearest petrol station with a canister. She had topped it up with $5 offered to her by an attendant as she could not afford to pay.
When she returned to the home, she stared at her boyfriend for a while before dousing the sofa and the carpet around him, the court heard.
Creating a trail to the apartment’s only doorway, she went on to post lit envelopes through the door, setting fire to the home.
When she saw him get up, yelling “hot, hot”, she shut the door and ran.
A post mortem confirmed Mr Gonzales, the boyfriend had died from smoke inhalation.
Now, seven years on from the incident, she has been found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison. She now has 39 suspended after entering a plea deal. She also faces 10 years of probation after her sentence is finished.
Handing down the sentence, Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton said the crime was a horrific offence. He said he had never dealt with such before. And that while Virgilio was not a monster and had shown remorse, she had done a “horrific, horrific, thing”.
Ahead of her sentencing, the now-32-year-old murderer said mental illness had driven her to the crime. She added that she was frustrated because she could not even put a motive to the killing.
“I hate me for what I did. I can never bring him back,” she told the court. She added “You can’t make sense out of a mind that makes no sense”.
Virgilio’s family said her mental state had begun to decline when she turned 20. She began taking a range of drugs including Oxytocin and cocaine by this time.
She eventually moved on to injecting meth, and disappeared on a two-week, drug-fuelled bender five months before her crime took place.
It was then she began to slip into a state of drug-induced psychosis, becoming obsessed with fire. In one instance, she attempted to kill her child.
The infant was taken away from her shortly before she murdered her partner. In another incident, her brother Reginald Carney took her to the hospital after growing concerned she would take her own life.
She was released with a prognosis of drug-induced psychosis, and was told the condition would pass.
At the time of her killing, she was found to have no drugs or alcohol in her system.
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Virgilio added: “Everything that ever happened with my son, with Michael, it was from my mind. When you believe something, you act on those things.”
Outside the courtroom, the victim’s youngest brother was relieved with the sentence and happy to have the seven-year ordeal over.
“I believe as long as she gets out at a late enough age to where she’s not a danger to me, my family or society, I’m OK with it,” Austine Gonzalez said.
Now receiving treatment, Virgilio told the court her life and mental state had returned to normal, and that she was engaged with a faith-based therapeutic programme at her prison as well as a running programme.
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