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Bail Remains at $1.5 Million for St. Pete Man Accused of Lighting Girlfriend Aflame


A St. Petersburg man who has been held in jail since last summer will remain there for the foreseeable future after his request for a lower bail was denied.

Authorities say John Martin Riggins doused his then-girlfriend Sheron Pasco with gasoline and lit her on fire the day after Independence Day last year. Pasco survived the incident, but she was unable to speak with investigators until three weeks after the alleged assault.

According to investigators, Pasco told them from her hospital bed that Riggins was extremely upset and accused her of lying prior to emptying a gas can on her. Pasco, who suffered third-degree burns over almost two-thirds of her body, says she attempted to remove the gasoline-soaked shirt, but Riggins set the shirt aflame before she was able to remove it.

The 37-year-old Riggins allegedly told authorities that he intended to douse himself with the gasoline in order to set himself on fire and did not intend to harm her. He asked that his bond, set initially at $1.5 million, be lowered so that he might be able to bond out and visit his mother, whom he says is severely ill.

However, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip Federico declined Riggins' request, saying he found no compelling reason to lower his bond. Riggins continues to be held at the Pasco County Jail on one charge of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree arson. His trial is scheduled to begin in late July.

The Law Offices of Bjorn Brunvand have been representing people charged with capital murder, felony drug charges, drunk driving, government fraud, and white-collar crimes for over a quarter century. Contact our office today to discuss your Tampa Bay-area state or federal charges.

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