Man gets life sentence for burning woman on Crow reservation
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday sentenced a 21-year-old Montana man to life in federal prison for the murder of a woman who was beaten, strangled, lit on fire and left to die in a remote area of the Crow Indian Reservation.
Attorneys for defendant Dimarzio Swade Sanchez said they would appeal the sentence from U.S. District Judge Susan Watters in Billings. A jury last year found Sanchez guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Roylynn Rides Horse.
Two accomplices also were sentenced Friday after earlier pleading guilty to participating in Rides Horse’s killing. Angelica Jo Whiteman, 26, received 40 years in prison with five years of supervised release. Dimarzio Sanchez’s younger brother, Frank, received nine years in prison with three years of supervised release.
The victim’s mother, Earnestine Pretty Weasel, told the court during that she initially wanted Sanchez to suffer the same fate as her daughter, but now forgives him and prays for him.
“I wanted what was done to her to be done to you, too,” Pretty Weasel said as she choked back tears. “She left behind six children. The oldest is 14, and her baby is four years old. Now she won’t be there to see her children graduate, to see them on their birthday.”
Sanchez kept his head down through much of the hearing and said only “no, your honor” when asked if wanted to say anything to the court. He had no prior criminal history.
Rides Horse died in a Utah hospital two months after what authorities described as a vicious assault that began after the defendants offered to give the victim a ride home from a saloon in the community of Kirby.
Rides Horse and Whiteman got into an argument that quickly escalated into a physical altercation that continued after Dimarzio stopped their car along a remote road on the reservation, according to authorities. Witnesses said the victim was beaten, strangled and stripped before being doused with gasoline and lit on fire.
Frank Sanchez pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact. Whiteman pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting first-degree murder.
Prosecutors wrote in their sentencing recommendations that Whiteman’s initial attack on Rides Horse kicked off the chain of events that led to the victim’s death.
Watters described the crime as inexplicable and said it came unprovoked.
Sentencing for all three defendants had been delayed after Dimarzio Sanchez unsuccessfully sought a new trial based on potential evidence that emerged following his conviction.
A cellphone was discovered after the trial with a message that appeared to reference the murder, and Sanchez said the message suggested someone else could have committed the crime.
Watters ruled last month there was enough other evidence in the case to support the jury’s guilty verdict.
A challenge to that ruling will be included in the appeal of Dimarzio Sanchez’s conviction and sentence, said one of his attorneys, public defender Anthony Gallagher.
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