Gregory Powell pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Alice Wells, 56, and accepted the life sentence in a hearing before Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee.
The incident occurred on Oct. 19 last year at the duplex the couple shared at 3509 Coleman Ave. near North Highland.
Powell told police he struck Wells in the head with a stick during an argument in their bedroom and then retrieved gas can and then doused her with gasoline.
He then dragged her into the bathroom, put her in the tub, set her on fire and watched her burn. Powell eventually used a fire extinguisher to douse the flames, covered her body with a bed sheet and left.
Powell then drove Downtown to 201 Poplar where he approached two police officers and told them, “I did something bad to my girlfriend. I set her on fire. I think she’s dead.”
The officers got the address from Powel and notified dispatchers to have patrol officers stop by the Coleman Avenue residence to check on Wells. Her badly burned body was discovered in the rear bathroom.
The case was handled by assistant district attorney Missy Branham, major case prosecutor in the DA’s Intimate Partners/Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit (IPDVPU).
The unit prosecutes felony cases of domestic assault and homicide committed by intimate partners. The Unit also works closely with the Shelby County Family Safety Center to provide services and assistance to victims and their families.