At the outset of his trial on Monday, Lee Griego, 27, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault charges.

On Friday, he testified in the punishment phase of his trial.

Griego explained that a flash fire in the garage adjacent the apartment of his ex-fiance, Megan Baldonado, 21, was the result of a failed suicide attempt.

He said he’d planned to set his car in the garage on fire and kill himself but not while Baldonado was present.

“I told her to leave because I was going to do this,” Griego testified.

He said he was depressed over the couple’s recent decision not to marry.

“I got dressed and I went down to kill myself,” he testified.

He said Baldonado came into the garage just as he finished placing gasoline soaked rags in and around his car.

He said as he sat in the driver’s seat, he flicked his lighter but did not intend to set the fire.

“I wanted to make a statement to her that it was something serious – that I wasn’t playing around,” Griego said.

But the flames ignited and Baldonado was burned over 65 percent of her body.

Griego suffered minor burns.

Sobbing, he testified, “I pray to God that He would give me that – that I could take that (pain) from her and that I could take her place.”

Griego is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Closing arguments and jury deliberations are set for Monday in Judge Ron Rangel’s 379th District Court.

For a list of recent stories Paul Venema has done, click here.