Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Attacker who set himself afire gets 10 years in prison

Matthew Wong, charged with attempted murder, agreed to a plea deal that will put him in prison for 10 years.

CAROLINA HIDALGO | Times

Matthew Wong, charged with attempted murder, agreed to a plea deal that will put him in prison for 10 years.

TAMPA — In a Hillsborough courtroom Monday, during a busy docket call, all side conversations came to a halt as a bailiff emerged with the inmate.

Matthew Wong, 51, was slumped in a wheelchair, his head bandaged, his ears deformed, his flesh so profoundly burned that his once-brown skin was now pink.

A woman in the audience whispered, "Oh, my God."

Wong was there to answer to a charge of attempted murder, that on the morning of Feb. 6, 2012, he tried to set his wife on fire, but instead engulfed himself in flames.

He was now hard of hearing, the judge heard, and blind in one eye. Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett asked Wong to raise his right hand, which it appeared the man barely managed to do, and give his plea.

"Guilty," Wong said.

One week before his scheduled trial, Wong accepted a plea deal that will put him in prison for 10 years, then on probation for another 10. Prosecutors would have presented evidence that, after 25 years of marriage, he had recently separated from his wife, Gloria Davis Wong, when he drove to the Countrywood apartment complex in a rental car and waited for her to leave for work.

When he saw her, he chased her with gasoline, but only managed to douse himself. When she took refuge in an apartment, he tried to light it on fire. That's when he lit himself.

Assistant State Attorney Natalia Silver told the judge that while the wife was not burned, she suffered "severe mental trauma."

She decided not to go to court on Monday, but told the prosecutor she agreed with the sentence.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3354.

Attacker who set himself afire gets 10 years in prison 02/11/13 [Last modified: Monday, February 11, 2013 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fennelly: Is Charlie Strong the anti-Freeze?

    College

    The Hugh Sleaze era at Ole Mess is over.

    Hugh Freeze resigned as head football coach Thursday to avoid being fired by Mississippi school officials. For those of you who had NCAA violations and investigations in the pool, you were wrong. Nor was it the defamation lawsuit filed against the school by former Rebels …

    FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2016, file photo, Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze pauses during a timeout in the team's NCAA college football game against Florida State in Orlando, Fla. Freeze has resigned after five seasons, bringing a stunning end to a once-promising tenure. The school confirmed Freeze's resignation in a release Thursday night. Assistant Matt Luke has been named the interim coach. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File) NY176
  2. Editorial: Just another crazy week for Florida government

    Editorials

    This is your state government at work this week:

  3. What to watch this weekend: 'Ozark,' 'Insecure,' 'Midnight, Texas'

    Blogs

    This side of Hell: Midnight, Texas

    Yvonne Orji and Issa Rae in Insecure.
  4. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 17: Think 11 miles of nothing but straight trail and open, flat fields sounds easy? Think again.

    Travel

    Day 17: Villarmentero de Campos to Lédigos: 33.5 km, 10.25 hours. Total for Days 1-17 = 394 km (245 miles)

  5. Uhuru activist Eritha Cainion speaks up in St. Pete City Council race

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Eritha "Akile" Cainion has been one of the most vocal candidates among the crowded field running for the District 6 seat on the St. Petersburg City Council.

    Eritha "Akile" Cainion. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]