Visalia man gets prison for lighting wife on fire

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- A South Valley man has been sentenced to prison. He pleaded guilty to lighting his wife on fire in 2013. His wife survived the attack.

Eugene Bruno is going to prison. The Honorable Judge Gary Paden sentenced him to 20 years to life behind bars. Last month, Bruno abruptly pleaded guilty to dumping gasoline on his wife then lighting her on fire in June 2013.

"We are happy with the sentence. We think that justice was served in this case," said Barbara Greaver with the Tulare County District Attorney's Office.

Greaver says the victim is also happy with the sentence. Both asked the judge to give the maximum penalty. In court Monday, Bruno's wife said, "Even though he didn't kill me, I feel like I'm dead."

"It's very important for the court and the defendant to hear from the victim," said Greaver.

In December, Bruno's trial began but it was quickly interrupted when he decided to plead guilty to all charges connected to the attempted murder of his wife. She did not have to testify in the trial.

"Any time the victim does not have to be re-victimized by getting back up on the stand and telling her story all over again, I think that's a win," said Greaver.

Witnesses in the case recalled the terrifying scene, describing the injuries on Bruno's wife. On Monday, judge Paden said, "This was probably one of the most atrocious criminal acts that did not involve death that I've ever seen."

The district attorney's office promises to follow this case every time Bruno is up for parole.

"We will give the parole board another recitation of the facts, the facts of the case, and let them know that we do not believe that he should be released," said Greaver.

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