Man Gets Death Penalty for Shooting Ex-Girlfriend, Lighting Her on Fire: Prosecutors

Brandi Morales' children were awakened by their mother's screams on the night of the murder in 2011

A man who shot his former girlfriend and lit her on fire in front of her children was sentenced to death Friday, prosecutors said.

In February 2011, Tyrone Harts, 41, killed Brandi Morales in the Los Angeles-area home she shared with her six children. Officials said Harts had previously lived there, but the couple had split up several weeks before.

On the night of the murder, police said he called the house and spoke to her children, telling one of them to leave the sliding glass door unlocked.

Morales’ two oldest children were awakened by their mother’s screams on Feb. 21, prompting the oldest boy to grab a kitchen knife and go to her room, officials said. Harts shot at the boy, who ran away while the other four children woke up. At the time of the murder, Morales' children ranged in age from 6 to 15.

The four younger children saw their mother lit on fire and attempted to put out the fire with cups of water, police said.

Police and fire officials arrived and Morales was pronounced dead on the scene. She suffered first and second-degree burns over more than half of her body, officials said.

Last month, Harts was convicted of one count each of murder and attempted murder, five counts of child endangerment and one count of being a felon in possession of a handgun, according to a news release from the Riverside County District Attorney’s office. The jury also found a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, making Harts eligible for the death penalty.

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The same jury Friday sentenced him to death. He is ordered to be formally sentenced on Jan. 30.

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