Visalia man allegedly sets wife on fire, facing 43 years to life in prison

A Visalia man accused of setting his wife on fire -- learned the charges he'll now face at trial.
April 9, 2014 7:39:05 PM PDT
A Visalia man accused of setting his wife on fire -- learned the charges he'll now face at trial.

Investigators say Eugene Bruno was also injured in the fire. His mug shot shows him with bandages on his head and upper body. The man appeared in court on charges of attempted murder and torture.

A judge held 49-year-old Eugene Bruno to answer on charges of attempted murder with special allegations that caused great bodily injury and has a prior strike on his record.

Tulare County Assistant District Attorney Anthony Fultz said, "He's also charged with aggravated mayhem, torture and corporal injury to a spouse. He was also out on bail at the time on another charge on this case. That'll add 2 years to his sentence."

Cameras weren't allowed during testimony, but Visalia police officers testified to the horrific events that took place back on June of 2013, including what the couple's son saw after his mother had gasoline poured on her.

Mona Whaley: "After a few minutes of being in his room he heard screaming. He went into the living room and saw his mother on fire. He said that she was screaming and said 'he lit me on fire!'"

Prosecutors say Bruno first tried to get his wife to drink the gasoline, but after a struggle, ended up throwing the gasoline on her and then setting her on fire. The fire burned down part of the family's house, leaving charred furniture and insulation on the front lawn.

"His acts were particularly horrendous," said Fultz. "The victim in this case, although she's doing better, is still in the hospital."

Nearly ten months later, family members tell us the victim is still in the hospital, but she's recovering well and is expected to be able to finally come home at the end of this month. They're hoping her husband is convicted and gets the maximum penalty for what he did.

In court, Visalia police detective Daniel Ford described the victim's injuries, when officers visited her in the hospital.

"She had very large, significant trauma to her face," said Ford. "Her ear had been burned off. There was swelling of her face. She was on a respiratory machine to assist with her breathing. It's no doubt the injuries she received were going to be permanent disfigurements of her body."

Eugune Bruno will be back in court at the end of this month. He faces 43 years to life in prison if he's convicted of all the charges.

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