LaTosha Taylor was in bed when she was doused with gasoline.
While it cant be proven, the gas likely was thrown on her from a cooking pot and lit, an arson expert testified Monday.
Former State Fire Marshals Office investigator Steve Sprouse said evidence doesnt match the story Taylors ex-fiance Jomekia Pope told police.
Pope contended Taylor came at him with a cup of gasoline in one hand and either a match or cigarette lighter in the other hand, Sprouse said.
In that scenario, the vapors from the gasoline would have ignited and both Taylor and Pope would have been burned when Pope alleges he pushed her, Sprouse said
Sprouse, medical doctors and members of Taylors and Popes family testified at a Monday sentencing hearing for Pope, who pleaded guilty last week to murder and arson.
The burns that covered more than 75 percent of Taylors body led to her death nearly two months after the Aug. 7, 2005 attack.
Popes trial was scheduled to begin Monday in Bibb County Superior Court.
Jurors reported to the courthouse and some were told to return Wednesday.
Pope, 36, can rescind his guilty plea up until hes sentenced.
During a short recess, Pope and one of his lawyers appeared to have an animated discussion about whether hed continue to accept the plea deal.
If found guilty at trial, Pope could face the death penalty. If hes sentenced without a trial, he could face either life in prison with parole or without parole.
Testimony is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning.
Victims voice heard on 911 tape
Ward Vanderhoff was sitting on a trucks tailgate smoking a cigarette outside his home on Lindsey Drive when he saw Taylor and Pope walking down the street.
She stopped and asked for help, Vanderhoff testified.
Taylors voice was in the background of a 911 call placed by the Vanderhoffs that was played in the courtroom Monday.
Several members of her family audibly wept as they heard her say Pope was the one who burned her.
Vanderhoff said he tries not to remember much about how Taylor looked when his wife wrapped her in wet sheets.
Her hair was matted to her head and it was smoking, he said.
Doctors described the third-degree burns that covered most of the 26-year-old womans body.
Dr. John Thomas Williams, who saw Taylor at The Medical Center of Central Georgia, described Taylors burns as the worst hes handled in 20 years.
Dr. Robert Mullins, who treated Taylor at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, said she ultimately died of an overwhelming infection that caused her organs to fail.
Taylors family seeks maximum sentence
Taylors parents, uncles, sister and a friend pleaded with Chief Judge S. Phillip Brown to sentence Pope to the maximum sentence allowable by law.
Taylors uncle, John Vinson, and best friend Tameka Jackson, said a part of them died along with Taylor.
Vinson said Pope shouldnt have an opportunity again to be in another womans life because he fears Pope will hurt someone else.
Jackson and another of Taylors uncles, Jonathan Pettigrew, testified that Taylor had confided in them her concerns about being in a relationship with Pope.
Pettigrew wept as he said he regrets not knowing about Popes prior conviction on an assault charge concerning an incident with a woman in Minnesota.
She called him for advice about Pope and he generally chose an optimistic approach while keeping her eyes open.
Had a I been privy to that (information) maybe I could have been instrumental in having her remove herself from that situation, Pettigrew said.
Taylor left behind two young girls, ages 4 and 7.
Her mother, Arleshia Pettigrew, is raising them along with Taylors now 17-year-old sister.
In the more than seven years since Taylor died, Pettigrew hasnt been able to move on as shes answered questions about the lingering court case for her family and even people she sees in the community.
She deeply feels the loss of her daughter.
But I havent gotten a chance to grieve, she said.
Popes family seeks mercy
Popes parents and siblings also testified at the hearing, pleading that Pope be granted mercy and a second chance.
They said hes matured behind bars and is truly sorry for what happened to Taylor.
If paroled, Pope wont have the problems with alcohol that he had before his arrest, his family said.
His brother, Horace Pope Jr., said Pope could be a mentor to children and use his mistakes to help turn others to a better path.
I hate what happened ... but I believe everybody deserves a second chance, he said.
Jomekia Pope wiped tears from his eyes as his sister, Iyesha Billingslea, spoke of how shed been a victim of domestic violence in college.
Its made him see things differently, she said of her brother learning about her experience.
Popes mother, Rose McElroy, apologized to Taylors family and said her son had wanted to apologize too. He hasnt because of the impending trial.
He tried to plead guilty years ago, but didnt have the opportunity, she said.
McElroy said her family is hurting too.
Everybodys grieving, but Im grieving too, she said hes told her. I lost someone I loved.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.