California Woman Who Set Fire to Stripper Convicted of Aggravated Mayhem

March 26, 2010

Earlier this month, a California woman was convicted of aggravated mayhem and torture for throwing a gasoline-filled beer can at a stripper and then setting the woman on fire. She was sentenced to life in prison. The incident took place last year outside of a San Fernando Valley strip club.

Penal Code 205 PC, California’s aggravated mayhem law punishes disfiguring or disabling another person while exhibiting extreme or reckless disregard for that individual’s physical or psychological well-being.

It is the “extreme or reckless disregard for the victim” that distinguishes aggravated mayhem under Penal Code 205 PC from Penal Code 203 PC, California’s “traditional” mayhem law. That same mental state is why aggravated mayhem’s penalty is so much more severe. The penalty for aggravated mayhem is a life sentence. In contrast, “traditional” mayhem is punishable by two, four, or eight years in prison.

Although the defense attorney tried to mitigate her client’s culpability by arguing that she has “a history of emotional problems and a short temper”, the jury didn’t believe that history was enough to overcome the “extreme disregard” for the victim’s well-being.