Thousands have signed online petitions to block the release of a Ukiah man sentenced to life in prison for dousing his girlfriend with lighter fluid and setting her ablaze, leaving her disfigured and bedridden until her death in 2016.

Gregory Beck, 55, will appear at a parole board hearing Feb. 27 at Corcoran State Prison in his fifth attempt to get out since the 2001 attack on then-32-year-old Sherry Carlton, who was paralyzed from the neck down and spent 15 years in a Lake County nursing home bed before she died.

“It was a horrific crime and we’re adamantly opposed to his release,” said Mike Geniella, a spokesman for District Attorney David Eyster.

Jurors in 2002 convicted Beck of torture, assault with caustic chemicals and corporal injury on a spouse for an attack that friends said occurred when she was trying to leave him. Her face was burned and she was left unable to speak after multiple surgeries, including one in which her left leg was amputated.

Beck sought parole in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011, insisting it was an accident. After his last request, parole board members said he could not apply again for 10 years.

But Beck asked for reconsideration and is for the first time, “apologizing and admitting he did it on purpose,” prosecutors said.

Beck’s mother, Barbara Beck of Ukiah, said her son is a changed man after years of therapy and anger management courses while in prison. He has an adult son with Carlton who also supports his release, she said.

Beck, a former welder, would live with his mother, she said.

“I want my son to come home,” said Barbara Beck, 85. “He is not the bad and evil person he is made out to be.”

Carlton’s family did not return a call Wednesday.

A childhood friend, Jill Francis of Petaluma, said she wrote a letter to the parole board, urging members to keep Beck behind bars.

Carlton, who loved riding Harleys, dancing and fishing with her son, spent the last years of her life suffering, she said.

“He killed her and it took 15 years for her to die in a really painful way,” Francis said.