Woman pleads guilty to murdering fiance in 2012 Anchorage fire
A 32-year-old Anchorage woman has formally pleaded guilty to fatally burning her fiance in a 2012 fire, years after she allegedly confessed to the crime.
Gina Virgilio’s murder and arson trial in the June 8, 2012 death of Michael Gonzales was about to begin Tuesday, according to the state Department of Law, when her plea agreement was announced.
“It was announced prior to jury selection that Virgilio would accept an agreement with the state where she would plead guilty to murder in the first degree with sentencing to be decided by the judge,” state officials wrote.
Anchorage police said in a statement at the time that other people were also injured in the early-morning fire, which occurred in an apartment building at 201 McCarrey St.
“The fire also completely destroyed the apartment in which the couple lives and forced the evacuation of approximately 18 other apartments,” police wrote in 2012. “Some of the evacuated persons required medical attention at local hospitals for smoke inhalation.”
According to the Department of Law, Virgilio wasn’t at the apartment at the time of the fire. She originally told police that Gonzales had started the blaze that killed him.
Investigators later learned that Virgilio had given a different account to staff at Providence Alaska Medical Center’s emergency room of the moments leading up to the blaze. Her mother Michelle Virgilio, who described her as a heroin and methamphetamine addict, then asked to speak with detectives.
“Michelle told investigators that when Gina had returned home, she had confronted her,” state officials wrote. “Michelle reported that Gina confessed that she had gone to the [gas] station and obtained gas. Gina walked back to the apartment where Mr. Gonzales was asleep on the couch. Gina then poured gas on and around the couch where Mr. Gonzales was sleeping. Gina was at the front door when she lit some paper on fire and tossed it into the apartment.”
Gina Virgilio remained just long enough to see the gas ignite and Gonzales awaken, prosecutors said, before she closed the apartment’s door and left.
Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton is scheduled to determine a sentence on Oct. 4, according to prosecutors. The plea agreement lists a range between 30 and 70 years as active time to serve, the statement reads.
According to state officials, all other terms will be left up to the judge.
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