Alaska woman gets 60 years for setting couch ablaze with boyfriend on it

An Alaska woman who poured gasoline on a couch where her boyfriend lay and set it on fire before shutting the door and fleeing the apartment will spend 60 years behind bars for first-degree murder.

Gina Virgilio, 32, sat with her face buried in her hands as Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton announced the sentence for the 2012 death of Michael Gonzalez.

Gina Virgilio leaves the courtroom Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska. 

Gina Virgilio leaves the courtroom Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska.  (AP)

Before sentencing, Virgilio indicated to the judge that mental illness drove her to this act.

"I hate me for what I did. I can never bring him back," Virgilio said.

Gonzalez family members gave emotional victim impact statements to the court on Oct. 4. The rest of the sentencing phase was continued to Monday.

Virgilio entered a plea deal earlier this year, and the state agreed to a sentence of 30 to 70 years. But during sentencing Monday, the state pushed for 70 years, noting circumstances of the crime warranted the higher end.

Speaking on her behalf Monday, Virgilio's brother Reginald Carney, said she began to change after she started experimenting with drugs – everything from Oxycontin and marijuana to cocaine – at about age 20. She later graduated to intravenous meth use.


"Her brain was fried from the meth," said Virgilio’s public defender, Craig Howard.

She lost weight, kept a distance from loved ones and once tried to kill her child. She also became obsessed with fire, Howard said.

On the night of June 7, 2012, Virgilio and Gonzalez held a party for Gonzalez's 24th birthday. While he passed out or fell asleep on the couch early the next morning, she found a gas can and walked a quarter-mile to the nearest gas station to fill it.

Virgilio walked back to the apartment and doused the couch, the carpet in front of it and the area in front of the apartment's only doorway with gasoline while Gonzalez slept.


She lit mail on fire and tossed it inside. When she saw Gonzalez get up and yell "hot, hot" she shut the door and fled. He died from smoke inhalation and severe burns.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.