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Judge denies bail for man accused of setting his estranged wife on fire

Christopher Peter Hanney, 44, appears on a video monitor in a Hillsborough courtroom Tuesday. He was denied bail and will remain in jail. Hanney’s estranged wife, Audrey Mabrey, 26, left, remains at Tampa General Hospital with burns over 80 percent of her body. The couple, who married in June 2008, have two children and had recently separated.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

Christopher Peter Hanney, 44, appears on a video monitor in a Hillsborough courtroom Tuesday. He was denied bail and will remain in jail. Hanney’s estranged wife, Audrey Mabrey, 26, left, remains at Tampa General Hospital with burns over 80 percent of her body. The couple, who married in June 2008, have two children and had recently separated.

TAMPA — A judge denied bail Tuesday for Christopher Peter Hanney, the man accused of dousing his estranged wife with lighter fluid, clubbing her on the head with a hammer and then setting her on fire last week.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Bernard Silver set bail at $100,000 on the arson charge pending against Hanney, but that was a moot point since he did not set bail on the attempted murder charge.

Hanney, 44, will remain in jail.

Audrey Mabrey, 26, remains at Tampa General Hospital with burns over 80 percent of her body.

Her best friend, Laura April, said Mabrey is breathing on her own but is unable to talk. Mabrey's heart beats faster when April is in the room, she said. To calm her down, friends stroke Mabrey's hair and rub her head.

"She feels us there," April said.

The fire that consumed the couple's house at 7565 Oxford Garden Circle in Apollo Beach also burned Hanney, a former New York police officer. Deputies arrested him last Wednesday as he was being released from the hospital.

Investigators say that on the day of the fire, Mabrey ran from the home to a neighbor's, her clothes and skin ablaze, and told the neighbor that "Chris" had done this to her. The couple, who married in June 2008, have two children and had recently separated.

April said Mabrey had recently moved into an apartment alone. She and Hanney communicated often, and he regularly watched their children, April said.

"Looking at him on camera, he didn't look like the Chris I know," April said after watching Hanney appear on a jail video monitor before the judge. "He looked sedated or something."

At Tuesday's bail hearing, a sheriff's detective told the judge about evidence that Hanney intended to take his own life the day of the attack. Mabrey told deputies that her husband said he wanted to die inside the burning house, the detective said.

Theda James, Hanney's public defender, followed up on that, saying Hanney had immediately expressed remorse. Prosecutors didn't appear convinced.

"He did everything he could to try to kill her," said Assistant State Attorney Christopher Moody. "By the grace of God, she's still alive."

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Judge denies bail for man accused of setting his estranged wife on fire 11/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 11:09pm]
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