A 34-year-old Colorado man was sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison plus 21 years following his conviction in late April for splashing his girlfriend with gasoline and burning her to death in front of her two sons while the four of them were on a camping trip in 2016, PEOPLE confirms.
Prosecutors say John Vasquez will never be eligible for parole.
A jury convicted Vasquez on April 26 of first- and second-degree murder, child abuse, arson and assault causing serious bodily injury in the death of 38-year-old Christina Archuleta-Blasier.
Archuleta-Blasier suffered third- and fourth-degree burns over 60 percent of her body, according to prosecutors. She died on July 20, 2016 — 33 days after she was set ablaze.
She was never able to speak to police about the attack, which occurred on the morning of June 17, 2016, at a wilderness campsite in the Barbour Forks area of the Arapaho National Forest, south of Idaho Springs.
The trip took a dark turn, according to prosecutors, after Vasquez and Archuleta-Blasier had a heated argument and he “chased her down and doused her with gasoline.”
Vasquez later argued that his girlfriend was killed in an accidental fire, but prosecutors believed otherwise and jurors agreed. His relationship with the victim had been violent before: He was found guilty of criminal mischief in October 2015 following a domestic violence incident with Archuleta-Blasier.
Archuleta-Blasier is survived by three sons. “The younger boys both witnessed the incident [in 2016] and bravely tried to rescue their mother, summoning first responders to the wilderness campsite.” prosecutors said in a statement.
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The victim’s 6-year-old son “suffered second-degree burns attempting to put out his mother who was on fire and has since physically recovered.”
Both boys — now being raised by their father, Archuleta-Blasier’s ex-husband — testified at trial.
At Vasquez’s sentencing, Archuleta-Blasier’s relatives “lamented all of the lost life experiences the defendant caused, as well as the lifelong mental scars on the children,” prosecutors said.
Said Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown: “Shocking is that over 15,000 people a year are victims of domestic violence, and each year a couple dozen will die at the hand of a so-called ‘loved one.’
“Christina however, isn’t just a statistic. She was a loving mother and woman who leaves three children behind, and a family that will always remember the joy she brought to this world.”
In court, Chief District Court Judge Mark Thompson called the crime “senseless, sick, depraved and despicable.”
Vasquez’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.