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Santa Ana Man Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For Setting Girlfriend On Fire

RIVERSIDE (CBS) — A Santa Ana man who doused his 23-year-old girlfriend in gasoline and set her aflame was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years and four months behind bars.

Constantino Monterrosas Gamez, 39, pleaded guilty last week to attempted murder, making criminal threats, false imprisonment and a sentence-enhancing great bodily injury allegation for the July 15 attack on Jessica Munoz.

Gamez changed his plea during a settlement conference. Under an agreement with the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, a sentence-enhancing allegation that the defendant used a deadly weapon during a felony was dropped in exchange for his plea.

Superior Court Judge John Molloy accepted terms of the agreement and sentenced Gamez to the maximum term for the attempted murder charge.

Around 8 a.m. last July 15, Gamez and his then-girlfriend got into a verbal altercation while traveling southbound on Interstate 15, in the defendant's Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck.

While he was driving, Gamez grabbed a can of gasoline and splashed a large amount of it on the woman, then ignited her using a cigarette lighter, according to the California Highway Patrol.

"The victim was able to remove her seatbelt and open the passenger door of the Chevy," CHP Officer Sylvia Vargas said earlier. "She jumped from the moving vehicle and fell onto the roadway. Thankfully, she was not struck by any other vehicles."

Gamez drove a short distance further, rear-ending a slow-moving garbage truck. He was not injured, nor was anyone in the other vehicle.

Munoz was rushed to a hospital for treatment of burns and other injuries from which she has since recovered. She did not appear at today's sentencing hearing.

One of the stipulations in the plea agreement is that the defendant will have no contact with the victim for three years.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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