He poured gasoline on himself and his wife in the bedroom on their Davenport home and lit a match.
But when Tom Kuan was given the opportunity to speak Friday at his sentencing on arson and domestic abuse charges in Scott County District Court, he didn't express remorse.
"In my life, I've never hurt anybody," Kuan said with help from a court-appointed Mandarin Chinese interpreter. "This is the only thing I've done wrong."
He went on to say he donates money to schools and homeless shelters and once invited a family in need to stay at his home for three months.
But he didn't mention his wife anywhere in his statement, which lasted about two minutes.
Kuan admitted to setting the Dec. 5, 2012, fire at 2621 E. 50th St. He and his wife, Lyn Kuan, both suffered severe burns and permanent scarring.
He appeared in court with a bandage around his head. His wife was not in court.
"It's beyond comprehension how a person could do that to another person," Scott County Chief Judge Marlita Greve told Kuan. "I did not hear any real remorse for what your wife suffered."
She then sentenced him to 27 years in prison, including 25 years on the forcible felony count of first-degree arson and another two years for domestic abuse causing injury. An attempted murder charge was dropped.
"No question this is a horrible crime," Kuan's attorney Murray Bell said. "He has a lot of remorse."