A 67-year-old ex-convict from Michigan will spend the rest of his life in prison for dousing a female acquaintance with gasoline and setting her on fire, leaving her with burns to over 40% of her body.
William Helmer learned his fate this week in the attack on Dorothy Spinella. The judge minced no words when she sentenced him.
“After sitting through your trial, viewing the photographs, observing the psychological effect you’ve had on the victim, I’ve come to one conclusion,” said Judge Shannon Walker, Detroit’s NBC affiliate WDIV-TV reported. “You are a cold-blooded human being, and there is no justification for your actions.”
The attack happened on Nov. 9, 2019, at 8:07 p.m. Citizens flagged down a police officer near a Coney Island restaurant in the 25810 block of Seven Mile Road in Redford, a Detroit suburb, reporting a woman was lying on the ground emitting smoke, with severe burns, prosecutors said.
She was able to speak briefly before she was taken to a hospital and eventually released to be cared for at home by her son.
“I’m just grateful to be here,” Spinella, who had finished her shift that night when she was attacked, told local Fox affiliate WJBK. “It upsets me to even think about it. It’s very upsetting that someone could do this to another human being.”
Helmer, arrested days later, was charged with one count of assault with intent to murder and aggravated assault, authorities said.
Helmer, whose criminal history dates to the 1970s, was released from prison in 2017 and discharged from parole in 2018, ABC’s Detroit affiliate WXYZ-TV reported.
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