Man to prison for 'outrageous act of retribution'
URBANA — A Guatemalan man who threw gasoline in the face of his wife's lover and set him afire was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison.
Simon Pascual, 30, who lived in the 300 block of East Hill Street in Champaign, told Judge Heidi Ladd through a translator that he had not been in any trouble in the seven years he had been in the United States until March and that he has learned from his mistake while in jail the past few months.
But Ladd had little sympathy for the father of three who was in this country illegally.
"Outrageous acts of retribution will not be tolerated and extreme and deliberate planned violence will carry high penalties," Ladd said.
Pascual pleaded guilty in May to attempted aggravated battery, admitting that he took a substantial step toward disfiguring Carlos Francisco, 26, on the night of March 22 when he surprised him from behind while masked.
Because Pascual had no prior convictions, Assistant State's Attorney Scott Bennett agreed to let him plead guilty to the less serious Class 1 felony, which carried a maximum of 15 years in prison. In return, Bennett agreed to dismiss two counts of Class X aggravated battery which could have meant up to 45 years in prison and agreed to recommend no more than 10 years in prison.
Given credit for good time, Pascual can be out in five years.
Pascual's court-appointed attorney, Assistant Public Defender George Vargas, recommended probation with county jail time, noting the extreme hardship on Pascual's wife and children, ages 2 and 4, who live in Champaign and a third child in Guatemala whom he supports.
Recounting the details of the crime, Ladd noted that Pascual became aware weeks prior to the attack that his wife had been having an affair with Francisco for more than a year. On the night of the attack, he filled a Coca-Cola can, which had been cut in half, with gasoline. When Francisco got out of his car, he felt someone behind him and when he turned to see who it was, the attacker used one hand to throw the gasoline in his face and the other to ignite a cigarette lighter.
Francisco ran inside his home and doused the flames with water.
When Urbana police Officer Brian Ingram arrived, he described seeing Francisco with skin hanging from his face and a trail of blood on the sidewalk from where he had been attacked leading into the bathroom of his home on Fairlawn Drive.
Ingram said Francisco didn't know that night who attacked him but over the course of the next two days received a series of threatening text messages from Pascual. Ingram returned to Francisco's home on March 24 to follow up. Police located Pascual the next day and he admitted attacking his friend.
"He admitted he'd been growing angrier for several weeks," Ladd noted. "This was not done in the sudden heat of passion. It was calculated, premeditated, carefully planned, executed with cold deliberation, and designed to inflict permanent suffering."
The judge noted that Pascual had no regard for the laws of the U.S. by being in this country without a visa, passport or valid documentation.
"He's broken the law every day he's been here by being here," she said.
And the attack on Francisco showed he had no respect for the law of Illinois or for "decency and humanity."
In a written statement to the judge, Francisco said the incident has left him scarred on his neck and hand, as well as fearful and depressed.
"Now when I get out of work, I call my brother so he could wait for me outside the house and when I get home I always look around because I am still afraid that Simon could be waiting for me and attack me again," he wrote.
"I feel that I am partially responsible because I was with his wife. When he found out, he called me and I asked for forgiveness. The pain that I caused him was emotional but not physical like he did to me," Francisco wrote.
In addition to the prison term, Ladd ordered Pascual to pay $3,915 in restitution to Francisco for his medical bills. Francisco said he has no medical insurance.