Prosecutors have reached a plea agreement with the man charged in the killing of 32-year-old Misael Santiago, who was shot to death in October and found in a driveway on Billings’ North Side, according to court records.
Police arrested Mahpevana-Hane Lorne Bearcomesout, 35, in connection to the shooting after finding Santiago dead from multiple gunshot wounds in the driveway of a home at 1128 N. 24th St. on Oct. 20.
Motions filed by his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Randi M. Hood, indicates that a plea agreement has been reached in the homicide case, and in a separate felony case. In that case, he faces six felony charges and is accused of drunkenly choking and punching his wife and assaulting other people with a gun and baseball bat in May 2013. The assaults allegedly took place in a home where two children were present.
Details of the plea agreement, which hasn’t yet been filed, were not available Wednesday, and a change-of-plea hearing is yet to be scheduled.
Bearcomesout, who is being held in the county jail on $500,000 bond, initially told investigators that he shot Santiago in self-defense after confronting the man about a pit bull puppy and gun that he believed Santiago had stolen, according to charging documents.
Ten days later, Bearcomesout pleaded not guilty to felony deliberate homicide, with a weapons enhancement, and tampering with or fabricating evidence. That charge alleges he hid the gun he used to kill Santiago.
Deliberate homicide carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. A weapons enhancement would add between two and 10 years to his sentence, and the tampering carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Bearcomesout's arrest came after a man contacted police, saying that Bearcomesout wanted to turn himself in, court records say.
The man reported that Bearcomesout came to his home at about 4 a.m. and said that he had shot someone the night before.
A woman at the home where the victim was found told police that on the night of the shooting, Santiago had gone outside to speak with a man who was pounding on the door.
Both she and her sister, identified as Santiago's girlfriend, who rented the home, said they didn’t hear anything after Santiago left, court records say.
Santiago's girlfriend told police that he had left the residence at about 3 a.m. with a black gun that had a stock and an extended magazine.
A neighbor told police that the sound of three gunshots woke her at about 2:30 a.m., according to investigators.
Bearcomesout told officers that he went to the house and confronted Santiago, shooting him with a .45-caliber Desert Eagle pistol several times because he thought the man was reaching for a weapon.
Bearcomesout went on to admit to police that he never saw Santiago with a weapon, court records say.
Investigators did not find any weapons on or near Santiago. A search warrant for Bearcomesout’s residence turned up a gun matching the description of the gun he reported Santiago had stolen.
Bearcomesout said that after the shooting he buried his pistol in the dirt by a dumpster. He told police where to find the gun, but it wasn’t there, according to charging documents.
It was unclear Wednesday if the gun was ever recovered.