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A Miami man pleaded guilty Monday to torching his girlfriend to death, but continued to insist “she pushed me to do something like that.”
That prompted an extraordinary exchange between Jesus Alvarez, 49, and an incredulous judge.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t mean to do this,” Alvarez said.
“Mr. Alvarez, when you put gasoline on someone and you light a match, it’s generally not a good outcome,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Sue Venzer said.
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Alvarez agreed to serve 40 years in prison for the 2011 murder of Margarita Blanco at a trailer home in Northwest Miami-Dade. County police said Alvarez beat her inside her home, then doused her with gas and ran off. She died of severe burns at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Alvarez, a habitual offender with a long history of crime, blamed his drug use and claimed he walked in on his girlfriend cheating on him.
“Sir, you lit her on fire!” Venzer said.
“Yeah, you know, you’re right. I recognize that. I didn’t meant to do it like that,” Alvarez said.
Said Venzer: “So, you’re the victim?”
“No, I’m not the victim,” Alvarez stammered.
His defense lawyer, Amy Agnoli, interjected, pointing out that Alvarez immediately tried to put the flames out. “All of his hands were burned as a result,” Agnoli said. “I’m not saying it’s OK, but I’m just saying he understood. …”
Alvarez thundered over her. “If I would have had that woman burn to death, I would have left right there.”
“She did burn to death!” Venzer cried.
“OK. I turned the fire off,” he said.
Courtroom observers were stunned at the exchange. Venzer shook her head.
“I’ve seen a lot in 25 years,” she said. “Your lack of empathy is astounding.”