Jury finds man guilty of assault, arson for setting ex-girlfriend - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Jury finds man guilty of assault, arson for setting ex-girlfriend on fire

Howard Marcus Howard Marcus
Maurice Arrisgado Maurice Arrisgado
Kim Massey Kim Massey

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Three times a charm for prosecutors in the case against a Leeward Oahu man accused of setting his ex-girlfriend on fire. Jurors in Kim Massey's third trial returned a guilty verdict Thursday.

Two prior juries were hopelessly deadlocked in deliberations, so the judge declared mistrials. This time, a new panel reached a unanimous verdict on a lesser charge.

When Kim Massey first claimed his ex-girlfriend caught fire because he accidentally spilled gasoline while she was smoking a cigarette, Chicago-based ATF Special Agent Howard Marcus, an expert witness for the prosecution, didn't buy it.

"We had conducted research at our laboratory regarding whether gasoline could be ignited on fire with a cigarette, and we found that it could not," Marcus said.

Firefighters rushed to a house on Waiomea Street in Honokai Hale on October 5, 2006. Prosecutors say Massey poured gasoline on his ex-girlfriend and deliberately torched her during an argument over money.

"She has serious permanent disfigurement on her body which can never be corrected, despite plastic surgery," Maurice Arrisgado, deputy prosecutor, said.

Prosecutors say the defendant then changed the story that she was already smoking when she was doused with gasoline.

"He said that she actually lit a cigarette after the gasoline was spilled on her," Arrisgado said. "So I said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, she's either crazy or a really stupid woman.'"

Jurors in Massey's third trial rejected the defense, convicting him of first-degree assault and first-degree arson.

"Arson is a very serious crime," Marcus said. "In addition to creating a horrible injury for the victim here, Marie, the community was jeopardized by this house being on fire."

Massey was originally charged with attempted murder. The first trial ended with a hung jury. The second jury acquitted him of that offense, but was hung on the lesser charge of assault.

This was the prosecution's third time at the plate.

"The prosecutor's mission is to seek justice," Arrisgado said. "Not at all expense, but we felt that it was serious enough, the evidence was strong enough."

Massey faces up to 20 years in prison for the arson and assault. He could have received a life term if he was convicted of attempted murder.

Sentencing is set for January 5th.

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