An Oregon man who set a Juneau woman on fire last July will serve three years in prison.
“A person only gets so many breaks in their life … then breaks stop happening,” Juneau Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez told 33-year-old Brian Hogan during a sentencing hearing May 2.
Hogan pleaded guilty last August to a third-degree felony assault after his on-again, off-again girlfriend had to seek treatment for burns covering 50 percent of her body. At the time of the assault, an existing protective order was issued to keep Hogan from the woman.
[Woman attacked, burned in Juneau.]
According to charging documents, Hogan was sitting near the victim in July 2015 while her hand was in a bowl of acetone to remove fingernail polish, then a residual flame from Hogan’s lighter landed in her bowl creating a domino effect of flames on her body.
In court, the victim stood near Hogan, cried in front of the judge and asked for the maximum punishment — five years in prison — to be handed down.
“I was screaming for help, but … he did nothing to help me,” the woman said while crying. “I then crawled on my burnt body to get help, I was in so much pain. I was screaming for help.”
The woman told Judge Menendez that she believed Hogan was “evil” and set out to hurt her that July day.
“I will never forget the smell of burnt skin the rest of my life,” she said.
[Grand jury balks at big felony for man who burned girlfriend.]
Hogan also read from a prepared statement while holding back emotions. He told the judge the assault was an accident, and he never intended her any harm.
“I’ve made enough bad decisions … I’ve been trying hard for the last several years to make up for (those) decisions,” Hogan said. “I wish every second of every day that I could take away that pain (she) suffered, and that I was the one that got burned.”
[The indictment that couldn’t wait for burn victim to testify.]
Menendez told Hogan he believed the defendant’s claim that the incident was an accident — but it happened nonetheless.
“It was an absurd thing for a grown man to have done in that kind of setting,” Menendez said, referring to Hogan playing with fire near a known flammable liquid.
Menendez also said he was worried by Hogan’s criminal past. According to the prosecution, Hogan was previously convicted of third-degree rape, delivering controlled substances to a minor and providing liquor to a minor, all in Oregon in 2002. He was later charged with multiple offenses, including criminal trespassing, criminal mischief, multiple probation violations and failure to register as a sex offender.
When Hogan committed his latest crime — setting his then-girlfriend on fire — he simultaneously committed a second crime by violating the protective order that was meant to keep Hogan from the woman. Menendez said a protective order “couldn’t be any plainer,” and Hogan’s past didn’t give the judge reason to believe Hogan could follow the law in the future without some reform.
“No matter what I say here today, I don’t know if you hear me or if you’re going to change your behavior,” Menendez said.
[Double jeopardy concerns raised in case against man who burned girlfriend.]
The judge gave Hogan a four-year sentence, with one year suspended, and five years of probation. Menendez said he hopes this sentence will serve as a deterrent for future crimes by Hogan.
“If you violate the law, you’ll be back here again,” Menendez said.
• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.