Man accused of lighting wife on fire to stand trial

Andrew Spear appears in court for preliminary hearing
Man accused of lighting wife on fire to stand trial

A Madison man accused of pouring gas on his wife and lighting her on fire will stand trial.

A Dane County Circuit Court judge ruled that the evidence at Tuesday’s preliminary hearing presented probable cause for Andrew Spear, 59, to stand trial. He is charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, false imprisonment, disorderly conduct and battery.

A criminal complaint said Spear hit his wife, Mary Spear, a state attorney, and drove her to their storage unit Aug. 16, where he forced her inside and told her to undress.

The wife said Spear then covered her in gasoline and drunkenly threatened to ignite her body, according to the complaint.

Prosecutors called Madison police Detective James Grann to the stand at the hearing. He described details that he heard from Spear’s wife.

“Andrew then lit the gasoline on fire that he previously poured on the ground, and the flame traveled across the ground and onto her body,” Grann said.

Fire briefly ignited Mary Spear’s arms and legs, according to the complaint.

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Grann also testified Andrew Spear was the one who put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.

The defense attempted to call Spear’s wife to the stand, saying her testimony would reveal an alleged affair between the victim and her boss and would also reveal the gas fire may have been accidental.

Judge David Flanagan denied the motion.

“I’m supposed to determine is there a plausible scenario that demonstrates probable guilt,” Flanagan said. “If there’s a second scenario, that’s a matter for the trial for defense.”

Mary Spear is the chief legal counsel for the state Department of Health Services. Throughout the proceedings, the defense brought up an alleged affair between Mary Spear and her boss at the state Department of Health Services.

In a statement to WISC-TV, Mary Spear’s boss acknowledged knowing her for 40 years but denied any relationship with her beyond friendship.

Andrew Spear was ordered not have any contact with his wife’s boss. 

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