A Boyd man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for a 2019 assault on his wife, the same woman he poured gasoline on and set on fire in 2014.
Mark Morgan Upchurch, 39, was sentenced last week in a Weatherford court after a Parker County jury found him guilty of assault/family violence. The charge was enhanced because of a previous conviction.
Upchurch also was fined $10,000.
In the Oct. 6, 2019, case, Upchurch went to the Springtown Police Department and told them that he was there to surrender because he had hit his wife.
Springtown police went to a residence where they found Upchurch’s wife, who told them that he had pushed her to the ground after an argument and hit her in the face with an open hand. A police officer observed bruising and swelling on the the woman’s face.
In the Parker County trial, jurors learned that Upchurch had been convicted of assaulting his wife in Taylor County and had been sentenced to a year in jail.
Upchurch’s wife told jurors how in 2014 while she was in the back seat of a vehicle in Parker County, he poured gasoline on her and lit her on fire. He then closed the car door while she burned. She managed to get out and he hosed her off with water, but he never called 911 or took her to a hospital, according to a news release from the Parker County District Attorney’s Office.
During the trial, prosecutors Susan Pruett and Travis Warner showed jurors photos of Upchurch’s wife while she was in the burn unit at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.
Prosecutors also had Upchurch’s wife step down and show them how the burns continue to scar her legs seven years later.
“We indicted Mr. Upchurch in 2014 for aggravated assault for burning our victim and intended to give him a lengthy sentence commensurate with the awful crime he committed,” said Parker County District Attorney Jeff Swain in the news release. “However, not only did our victim not want to prosecute him, she also actively hid from our DA investigators for years on end.”
Eventually, Upchurch was given three years in jail for the 2014 attack.
Prosecutors were able to convince Upchurch’s wife to testify in last week’s trial.
“The fact that she went back to him after all of these assaults is truly a testament to the power of the cycle of domestic violence,” Pruett said. “Despite repeated assaults, for a multitude of reasons, she never wanted to leave or prosecute him. This is the reason that, like ours, prosecutors’ offices across Texas don’t base the decision to prosecute this kind of case solely on the desire of the victim.”