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Monday, Mar 30, 2015

Man gets 18 years for trying to set sleeping couple on fire


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BROOKSVILLE - A man who attempted to set his sleeping ex-girlfriend on fire in June has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Judge Daniel Merritt Jr. accepted a plea deal Thursday morning that will send Sylvester F. Kulaga, 53, to prison on two counts of attempted first-degree murder, as well as battery and petit theft.

Kulaga will be on drug offender probation for 12 years following his release from the Florida Department of Corrections, according to the deal.

Assistant State Attorney Shannon Laviano said on June 18 Kulaga was seen by a clerk and video surveillance stealing charcoal lighter fluid and a lighter from the Circle K on U.S. 41.

Kulaga then went to the home of his ex-girlfriend, Lisa Massey, entering the house through a back door and then breaking into her locked bedroom.

Kulaga then threw the lighter fluid on Massey and her new boyfriend, James Mullis, while they were sleeping, and used a spray paint can and lighter fluid to try to set them on fire, Laviano said.

Massey's cousin heard the altercation, and intervened and the three forced Kulaga out of the home.

Kulaga fled from the residence, and was located by the sheriff's office a short time later.

Massey briefly addressed the court during the hearing.

"I'm sorry you're going to jail," Massey said. "I didn't deserve this, I don't know why you did it."

Massey said the act was particularly egregious because her 9-year-old son was in the house as well.

Massey said she also feared Kulaga poisoned their well, or put a bomb in her car.

"A person shouldn't have to live like that," Massey said.

Hernando Today previously reported Kulaga had been released from the Hernando County Jail three days before the offense, where he had been serving time for grand theft, possession of a controlled substance and drug equipment.

Kulaga has been held in lieu of $155,250 bail since the offense, and jail records show he has 296 days time served.

(352) 544-5283

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