Roy Robertson Mallard jr. and his wife had a tumultuous relationship, court testimony showed. She left him several times and had sought protection at shelters.
In fall 2010, she was living in her own home in the 3800 block of Clark Avenue when Mallard began threatening her again, according to the district attorney's office. Mallard left her threatening messages and was arrested outside her home.
In one message, he said "I'm fixin to set that b---- on fire, you got that," a news release said.
Prosecutors presented evidence that on Sept. 14, 2010 Mallard doused the driver's seat of her car with gasoline and set it on fire, the release said. His wife and children were sleeping.
Prosecutors showed that Mallard had eight prior felony convictions, including two robberies and six drug convictions.
He must serve 20 years before he is eligible for parole.