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Local News in Brief : Defendant Admitted Burning Girlfriend, Neighbor Testifies

A North Hollywood man charged with killing his girlfriend by dousing her with gasoline and setting her afire admitted his actions to a neighbor, the neighbor testified Thursday.

During a preliminary hearing for Stephen Cole, 37, next-door neighbor David Carpenter said Cole had admitted killing 43-year-old Mary Anne Mahoney on Aug. 14 in a house the couple shared.

Carpenter, 36, said Cole told him, “Dave, I set the bitch on fire.”

Cole is charged with the special circumstance murder of Mahoney and with arson. The fire damaged the rented home, in the 5800 block of Whitnall Highway, and threatened nearby apartment buildings, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Kenneth A. Loveman.

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Because the murder occurred during arson, a serious felony, Cole faces a possible death sentence, Loveman said.

Mahoney suffered third-degree burns over more than half of her body and lived for two weeks before dying of massive organ failure, according to court documents.

Carpenter testified that moments after the fire broke out, he found Mahoney standing on his doorstep, her face and upper body badly burned.

“She was holding her arms outstretched and saying ‘He set me on fire. I’m gonna die’,” Carpenter said.

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Carpenter said that when he approached Cole moments later, Cole admitted what he had done. Carpenter said he slugged him and then hurried to evacuate people from nearby apartments.

Carpenter testified that he had often heard Cole and Mahoney fighting.

The preliminary hearing is scheduled to continue on Monday.


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