Trials & Litigation

Jury Mulls Murder-Attempt Case Against Man Who Testified Badly Burned Victim Attacked Him

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Updated: A Florida jury is now reportedly deliberating attempted murder and arson charges against a man accused of dousing his wife with gasoline and setting her on fire.

The badly burned victim survived the 2007 blaze and testified against him earlier this week.

However, in testimony that packed a Hillsborough County courtroom with attorney spectators yesterday, defendant Christopher Hanney claimed that the fire was an accident resulting from his wife’s own behavior, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Threatened with a butcher knife by his wife and held at gunpoint by a man wearing a red devil mask, he was then tied to a chair in the garage of the family home, Hanney told the jury.

He is a retired New York City police detective, notes a Tampa Tribune article about Hanney’s testimony.

As the man tried to get his ATM card number, his wife laughed and sent out fake text messages on his cellphone, the defendant said. Then, as the man held a pillow and a gun to his face, his wife held a lighted candle and a soda bottle, according to the two articles.

Among the text messages read to the jury yesterday, the Times reports, was this one: “I’m sorry for all I’ve done. Now I am that monster she made me out to be.”

Kicking wildly from the chair, he accidentally turned Mabrey into a fireball, Hanney testified. At that point, he managed to break free and tried to smother the fire with a blanket but missed. The masked man, meanwhile, escaped.

Asked on cross about his alleged comments to a sheriff’s deputy at the scene of the fire incriminating himself, Hanney said the deputy was incorrect, the Trib reports.

Asked why he hadn’t told the full story about the alleged attack on himself to deputies at the scene, Hanney said he was in shock after having seen his wife burning.

Updated at 6:09 p.m. to include information from Tampa Tribune article.

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