A suspended lawyer is accused of dousing his girlfriend with flammable liquids and setting her on fire as she slept on a couch at his Burnsville condominium, according to media reports.
David Gherity, 60, was charged with first-degree assault and first-degree arson, according to WCCO. Gherity remains in jail in lieu of $50,000 bail, the Star Tribune says. The criminal complaint was filed Friday in Dakota County District Court.
Criminal charges say police were called to the condo around 2:44 p.m. on Feb. 9 on a report of a smoke alarm going off. Police found heavy smoke in the apartment and Gherity's girlfriend on fire, according to reports.
The victim, who lost an ear and suffered serious burns in the fire, was in a medically induced coma until March 4. She remains in the hospital, WCCO says.
The victim said she was awakened by the fire after drinking and taking medication, according to the ABA Journal. She told officials that Gherity "lit the fire" and "tried to burn my house down," WCCO says.
The fire department reported alcohol bottles in the area where the victim was found and an analysis of the victim's clothing showed accelerants, possibly hair spray or nail polish remover, were used, the criminal complaint says.
Gherity insisted the hair spray and nail polish were the victim's, but she told police she hasn’t used hairspray for several months and does not use fingernail polish, the Star Tribune says.
Prior to the fire, the victim contacted her sister and said Gherity, her boyfriend of about 10 years, "has gone beserk," WCCO says.
If convicted, Gherity could spend up to 60 years in prison or face up to $85,000 in fines — or both.
Gherity has a history of violent behavior, the Star Tribune says. He has been suspended from practicing law in Minnesota since 2004 and was placed on probation three times before that, Minnesota Lawyer says. Gherity's suspension was, in part, a reaction to a 2001 incident where Gherity was convicted of assault, according to Minnesota Lawyer.