Man charged with arson after girlfriend suffers burns

David Gherity
David Gherity

(See a more recent story about the court dropping all charges in this case.)

David Gherity allegedly placed fire accelerants on victim’s body

A 60-year-old Burnsville man was charged on Friday with three felony counts related to a Feb. 9 fire in which his girlfriend suffered second- and third-degree burns and was hospitalized in a medically induced coma.

David John Gherity was charged with felony first-degree assault and two counts of felony first-degree arson for allegedly placing fire accelerants on the woman’s clothes while she was sleeping and then starting a fire at the residence on the 12000 block of Parkwood Drive.

He was arrested April 2 and is being held in jail on $50,000 bond with conditions.

The victim is recovering in the Hennepin County Medical Center Burn Unit after suffering burns to her scalp, right hand, face, head, neck and legs, and losing her ear.

After the victim emerged from a coma, she allegedly indicated on Feb. 23 that she was scared of Gherity and that he “did this,” according to the criminal complaint.

The victim told police March 4 that on the day of the fire Gherity was stressed and she had been drinking and had taken some medication before she fell asleep on the couch. The victim allegedly left a message on her sister’s voicemail that day saying Gherity “has gone berserk, I can’t call now, I’ll call you later.”

She said Gherity was in the residence when she fell asleep. When she awoke to the fire, Gherity was not there and smoke alarms had gone off.

At about 2:44 p.m., firefighters found the victim sitting at the kitchen table on fire, which they extinguished.

The victim told firefighters that “he lit the fire” and “the bastard tried to burn my house down” before she was taken to the HCMC Burn Unit in Minneapolis.

Gherity allegedly went to HCMC smelling of smoke and covered with soot, according to medical staff. He alleged that he went to the residence after the fire, but that was inconsistent with building records of when he last entered the building, according to the criminal complaint.

Medical staff also reported that the first thing Gherity, a former attorney, asked was if the victim had an advanced health care directive. When told the victim did not, Gherity said he would write one up and have the victim sign it. Medical personnel told Gherity the victim was medicated and would not be signing anything.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension determined the clothes the victim was wearing carried a mixture of alcohol, lotion and possibly hairspray and fingernail polish remover.

The victim told police on March 7 that she has not used hairspray for several months and she does not use fingernail polish or remover.

The victim’s sister said Gherity told her on Feb. 10 that maybe nail polish, nail polish remover or hairspray she uses started her on fire, according to the criminal complaint.

The maximum sentence for the three charges is 60 years in prison and $85,000 in fines.

Email Tad Johnson at
[email protected]