An Alaska woman has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for pouring gasoline on her sleeping boyfriend, lighting him on fire and then trapping him in the apartment they had once shared together.
Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton sentenced Gina Virgilio on Monday to 99 years in prison with 39 years suspended for the 2012 murder of Michael Gonzalez. He called the brutal murder a “horrific, horrific thing,” the Associated Press reports.
Virgilio received the sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree murder.
Gonzalez’ burned body was found in the apartment the couple shared together on June 8, 2012, one day after his 24th birthday, according to KTVA.
Virgilio initially told investigators that Gonzalez had started the fire himself, but her mother, Michelle Virgilio told detectives a different story.
“Michelle reported that Gina confessed that she had gone to the [gas] station and obtained gas. Gina walked back to the apartment where [Gonzalez] was asleep on the couch,” state officials wrote in a news release. “Gina then poured gas on and around the couch where [Gonzalez] was sleeping. Gina was at the front door when she lit some paper on fire and tossed it into the apartment.”
Gina Virgilio would later tell investigators that she saw her boyfriend jump up from the couch and “hot, hot” as he ran through the flames, Anchorage Police Det. Walter Gilmour testified earlier this month.
On Oct. 4 Gonzalez’ family delivered emotional victim impact statements as Gina Virgilio looked on, sometimes breaking down in tears.
“I replayed that in my mind over and over, my baby brother telling you it’s hot and you turned around and left him there, you didn’t give him a chance,” the victim’s sister, Trisha Gonzalez, said according to the local station. “You were so heartless. It was cruel to torture him in that manner.”
Gina Virgilio told the court herself that she didn’t know why she killed her boyfriend, who she said had never been abusive. She blamed the act on mental illness and years of drug abuse and said she had not been in her right mind at the time of the killing.
“I cannot bring Michael back," she said in court. "No matter how much I want to. The only thing that I’ve ever done since this happened is to live in a way that is honoring to his life and to my son’s life and to those around me because I know he was a good man."
Her brother, Reginald Carney, said his sister began using drugs at around 20 years old, doing everything from OxyContin and marijuana to cocaine before she began using intravenous meth, the AP reports.
“Her brain was fried from the meth,” her public defender Craig Howard said of her regular drug use leading up to the killing.
He said she had also once tried to kill her child before she eventually lost custody of her son to the state and had become obsessed with fire.
The night before Gonzalez died, the couple held a party at their apartment to celebrate his 24th birthday. He passed out on the couch after drinking beer and Gina Virgilio made her way to the gas station to purchase the gasoline—even taking $5 from the clerk for gas after realizing she didn’t have enough money.
Now, Gina Virgilio will spend the foreseeable future behind bars—a sentence that seems fitting to Gonzalez’s family.
"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," the victim’s brother Austine Gonzalez said outside the courtroom.
If released, Gina Virgilio will also have to serve 10 years of probation.
Since her incarceration, Gina Virgilio has become an active part of the faith-based therapeutic program in prison, as well as the prison’s running program.
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