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Police: Man tries to light ex-girlfriend on fire after he says she gave him herpes

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by Kevin Lewis/ABC7

ROCKVILLE, Md. (ABC7) — A man nearly lit his ex-girlfriend on fire after she reportedly gave him a sexually transmitted disease, Montgomery County Police allege in court documents obtained by ABC7.

Donnovan Francois, 24, is charged with attempted first-degree murder, home invasion, first-degree assault and second-degree assault.

Last July, Francois appeared unannounced at the then 17-year-old victim's apartment along the 200 block of Congressional Lane in Rockville. It was around midnight. Francois approached the victim's roommate in the parking lot and asked for "a light.” The roommate denied his request. Francois later asked to speak with the victim directly, but was denied access to the locked apartment. Simply put, the victim had no desire to chat with her ex.

A short while later, the roommate watched in utter surprise as Francois emerged from the apartment building, allegedly "dragging" the victim with him. The roommate asked Francois what was going on. He reportedly replied, "the bi--- gave me herpes" and "I am going to kill this bi---."

The roommate and her boyfriend attempted to pull the victim from Francois’ firm grip; however, it was at that point Francois began to pour alcohol on the victim's body and hair, police said. The alcohol was clear and came from a container stashed within a black bag.

Francois allegedly shared his plan of setting the victim on fire as revenge for his unwanted STD, and further explained he was willing to "go to jail" for the crime. The 24-year-old later grabbed hold of a white PVC pipe and tried to whack the victim with it, but ran away when he heard the shrill of police sirens.

“There was a sort of urgency to the scream, and a sort of genuine stress that really set my heart pumping and my adrenaline pounding," the victim's neighbor, Orlan Wilhite, told ABC7. “I’ve never really experienced something so violent and in such proximity to me.”

Wilhite, a 23-year-old National Weather Service employee, called 911 to report the domestic assault. Detectives with the Major Crimes Unit later asked Wilhite to visit police headquarters where he granted an interview to help bolster the prosecution's case.

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“It’s uncontainable and horrific," Wilhite said. "There’s no excuse for attacking somebody like that. I don’t care if you’ve been given an STD. Your responsibility as an adult, and as a human, is to treat people in a peaceful and respectful way.”

Medics took the victim to the hospital. Her eyes were swollen shut. She had cuts and bruises across her face and head. The victim stated she had no recollection of the brutal attack, but was confident her ex was responsible, a man she has known since the age of 14.

While processing the crime scene, investigators noted that the front door to the victim's apartment was "open" and the door lock had been "broken.” There were also pieces of PVC pipe scattered about the grass.

Authorities explain they waited nearly a year to file charges strictly at the victim's request. At first the teen did not want to pursue a criminal case, but recently had a change of heart. Detectives add that they do not know how the suspect contracted herpes, or if he even had herpes at all. That is likely a critical fact that will be addressed in future court proceedings.

Francois has a lengthy arrest record, dating back to 2013, for crimes including armed robbery, assault, burglary, trespassing and theft. He currently has two pending cases in Montgomery County, not counting the attempted first-degree murder STD incident.

Francois is now residing in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Clarksburg. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Montgomery County District Court on July 13. He faces one life term, plus an additional 60 years in prison. No defense attorney is listed in his court paperwork.

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