Man sentenced to 20 years for setting woman on fire - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Man sentenced to 20 years for setting woman on fire

Richard Lee Luss (Photo source: Gautier Police Dept.) Richard Lee Luss (Photo source: Gautier Police Dept.)
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

An Ocean Springs man will spend 20 years in prison for pouring gas on his then-girlfriend and setting her on fire. Karla Villafranca suffered burns on more than 80 percent of her body, and spent four months in a medically induced coma. To this day, she is still recovering.

Assistant District Attorney Cherie Wade called Villafranca "a brave young woman," whose life was changed forever at the age of 22.

"Since the day she was burned, she has demonstrated courage by fighting for her life at the hospital, by telling the police that her boyfriend set her on fire, and today, by showing her strength at the plea hearing," Wade said.

"It took Karla ten months to get out of the hospital due to her extensive injuries and, to this day, she is still recovering. I am proud that she was able to see justice served today without having to suffer through the trauma of a trial and reliving the nightmare of November 27, 2011," District Attorney Tony Lawrence said.

At the time of the attack, in 2011, Mississippi didn't have a separate attempted murder statute. So Richard Lee Luss, 28, was charged with Aggravated Domestic Violence, Conspiracy to Commit Perjury, Tampering with a Witness, and Subornation of Perjury. He pleaded guilty to the charges Friday.

"This case is one of the reasons why the Mississippi prosecutors asked for the legislature to create a separate attempted murder statute," DA Lawrence said. "The new law took effect July 1, 2013. Unfortunately, that new law could not be used in this case and this defendant faced a maximum penalty of 20 years. But in the future, any individual who does that Mr. Luss did could face up to life in MDOC."

The Conspiracy to Commit Perjury, Tampering with a Witness, and Subornation of Perjury occurred between May 16-17, 2013. Prosecutors said that's when Luss convinced another inmate at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center to sign an affidavit under oath taking responsibility for setting Villafranca on fire. The scheme was discovered when officials realized that inmate was actually locked up when Villafranca was burned.

"Karla has to live with both physical and emotional scars of domestic violence. I hope her bravery is an example for victims of domestic violence that they too can find the strength to stand up for themselves against their abuser," Wade said.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • NEWSMore>>

  • Dozens wait in line as JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts opens for first weekend

    Dozens wait in line as JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts opens for first weekend

    Saturday, February 17 2018 2:32 PM EST2018-02-17 19:32:45 GMT
    JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts opens to a line on Saturday morning. (Photo source: WLOX)JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts opens to a line on Saturday morning. (Photo source: WLOX)

    The doors at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts opened days ago, but Saturday about 100 people waited in line to shop

    More >>

    The doors at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts opened days ago, but Saturday about 100 people waited in line to shop

    More >>
  • Veterans hospital looking to hire more nurses

    Veterans hospital looking to hire more nurses

    Saturday, February 17 2018 11:25 AM EST2018-02-17 16:25:12 GMT
    (Source: File)(Source: File)

    The Biloxi Veterans Affairs Medical Center has started an aggressive campaign to hire more nurses to improve care for veterans.

    More >>

    The Biloxi Veterans Affairs Medical Center has started an aggressive campaign to hire more nurses to improve care for veterans.

    More >>
  • Olympic gold medalist Tori Bowie is helping put out fires in Mississippi

    Olympic gold medalist Tori Bowie is helping put out fires in Mississippi

    Saturday, February 17 2018 10:56 AM EST2018-02-17 15:56:38 GMT
    Olympic gold medalist Tori Bowie is helping put out fires in Mississippi with new PSA. (Source: MS Forestry Commission)Olympic gold medalist Tori Bowie is helping put out fires in Mississippi with new PSA. (Source: MS Forestry Commission)

    The world's fastest woman and Olympic gold medalist Tori Bowie is helping her home state put out fires. The Mississippi native is featured in a public service announcement from the Forestry Commission to help prevent wildfires.

    More >>

    The world's fastest woman and Olympic gold medalist Tori Bowie is helping her home state put out fires. The Mississippi native is featured in a public service announcement from the Forestry Commission to help prevent wildfires.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly