December 17, 2013

Arlington man gets life for setting girlfriend ablaze

The woman survived the attack but will require treatment throughout her life to deal with scar tissue, prosecutors say.

An Arlington man who doused his girlfriend with gasoline and set her ablaze last year was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison.

A Tarrant County jury deliberated just over an hour before reaching the decision against Antonio Hales Jr., 23. He was also fined $10,000. Last week, the same jurors convicted him of attempted capital murder.

The girlfriend will need surgeries throughout her life to cope with the scar tissue, prosecutors said.

“The crime of arson leaves a permanent mark on its burn victims,” Miles Brissette, who prosecuted the case with Heather Davenport, said in a statement. “The jury’s verdict today sends a very clear message that those who intentionally set fires should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Hales was on probation for drug convictions at the time of the attack. He must serve 30 years before he’s eligible for parole.

The attack occurred Aug. 17, 2012, after the couple arrived at the Southern Hills Apartments in Arlington, where Hales’ drug supplier lived, according to testimony.

As they sat in their car, Hales grabbed a gas can from the back seat and doused his girlfriend after an argument broke out. The woman began taking off the gas-soaked clothes, but Hales choked her, causing her to black out.

When she came to, Hales threw a match on the floorboard, igniting the car and his girlfriend, according to testimony.

The woman got out of the car and ran to an apartment leasing office. Hales chased her but he ran away when he couldn’t drag her out of the office, according to prosecutors.

In the punishment phase of the trial, jurors heard that the couple had a seven-year relationship marked by continual domestic abuse, the news release stated.

In 2010, Hales became angry as his girlfriend drove along Texas 360 and grabbed the steering wheel, causing the car to roll twice and hit another car occupied by a pregnant woman.

Jurors also heard that Hales choked his girlfriend in June 2012.

After the August 2012 attack, the girlfriend spent a month at the burn unit at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, where she had numerous surgeries, and several months at Zale Lipshy University Hospital in Dallas.

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