Update: Man sets girlfriend on fire after allegedly dowsing her in lighter fluid

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 6, 2013 

A man accused of setting his girlfriend on fire after dowsing her with lighter fluid faced charges of aggravated assault and aggravated battery during a Recorder's Court hearing Wednesday morning.

Police responded to Havenbrook Court Apartments at about 5 a.m. to meet with EMS and Fire Department units, according to a Columbus Police Department report. Robert Williams, 35, was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery after his 44-year-old girlfriend was transported to a hospital in Atlanta for second and third degree burns on her face and hands.

During the hearing, officers told Judge Michael Cielinski that the victim's daughter said Williams poured lighter fluid on his girlfriend and set her on fire in their bedroom at about 3 a.m. Williams sustained burns to his stomach during the incident.

Williams told police he was attempting to light a cigarette while in bed, and the cigarette combusted and set himself and his girlfriend on fire. When questioned further, he changed his story, and was unable to explain the container of lighter fluid that police found in the bathroom trashcan.

The victim's daughter told the court that she was talking on the phone not long before the incident occurred, and heard Williams and his girlfriend arguing. The witness said the smell of burning gasoline along with a putrid smell came from the bedroom shortly before her mother knocked on her door and said Williams had set her on fire.

Witnesses told the court the victim is in critical condition in an Atlanta hospital. She has sustained second degree and third degree burns on her face, neck, chest and hands, and is awaiting surgery for damage done to her throat.

Public Defender Charles Lykins argued that the charge of aggravated assault should be dropped in favor of the more serious charge of aggravated battery, which Cielinski agreed to.

Bond has been set for Williams at $100,000.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the aggravated assault charge was not dropped. It was dropped in favor of the more serious charge of aggravated battery.

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