Two men accused of setting a fire at a Lockwood mobile home that killed four people denied charges Monday in Yellowstone County District Court.

Robert Eric Bottenhagen and Zaccary John Kern, both 21, appeared before Judge Gregory Todd on charges related to the April 18 fatal fire at 206 Hemlock Drive.

Bottenhagen pleaded not guilty to four counts of negligent homicide and one count of tampering.

Kern also denied four counts of negligent homicide and tampering, and additional alternative charges of negligent homicide by accountability.

Prosecutors say Bottenhagen and Kern started towels and an apron on fire inside the home while Amber-Marie Beyers, 33; Donavon Fogle, 25; Brandi Hansen Moats, 25; and Troy Saylor, 28, were sleeping.

The two men then left the mobile home. All four remaining occupants died of smoke inhalation, prosecutors said.

The tampering charge alleges that, after they learned of the fire, the men told another person not to report their involvement.

Both men remain in the county jail on $150,000 bond.

Prosecutors said Bottenhagen and Kern had been drinking with the four victims at a Billings bar the previous evening. The two men then joined the victims at the mobile home, where one of the victims lived, for an after-party gathering.

After the four victims went to sleep, prosecutors said, Bottenhagen and Kern set fire to towels and an apron in the kitchen. Kern later told a friend that they thought the fire was out before they left the home, court records state.

The fire was reported at about 4 a.m. by a neighbor. Lockwood fire crews arrived and discovered the four bodies inside the home while putting out the fire. 

Bottenhagen and Kern were arrested later that day. 



State courts reporter for the Billings Gazette.