A Busby man who has agreed to admit to his role in the beating and burning death of a Crow Agency woman last year lied about being at the scene, then admitted he was present during the attack, federal prosecutors said.
In court records filed on Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Suek outlined the evidence against Frank James Sanchez, 19, who is set to plead guilty to failing to report a felony and to being an accessory after the fact.
A plea agreement calls for first-degree murder charges against Sanchez to be dismissed at sentencing if the judge accepts the deal.
Sanchez is set to change his plea on March 14 in U.S. District Court in Billings.
Sanchez, along with co-defendants Dimarzio Swade Sanchez, 19, of Busby, and Angelica Jo Whiteman, 24, of Billings, are charged in the death of Roylynn Rides Horse, 28. Rides Horse died on June 28, 2016, at a Salt Lake City hospital, where she was flown for treatment of third-degree burns over 45 percent of her body.
Dimarzio Sanchez and Whiteman are awaiting a May 22 trial on first-degree murder charges.
Suek said the attack happened April 17, after Rides Horse asked Whiteman for a ride home to Crow Agency from the Kirby Saloon, where the victim and her common-law husband had gotten into an argument.
Whiteman and Rides Horse got into a car driven by Dimarzio Sanchez. Frank Sanchez and three others also were in the vehicle, Suek said. One of the passengers was dropped off on the ride.
On the drive from Kirby to Crow Agency, Whiteman, who was in the front seat, began to argue with Rides Horse and jumped into the back seat and began to beat Rides Horse, Suek said.
Whiteman told Dimarzio Sanchez to turn the car around so she could beat Rides Horse. He complied and drove the car down to Castle Rock Road, which is on the Crow Reservation.
When they stopped, Whiteman dragged Rides Horse out of the car and continued to beat and strangle her, court documents said. At one point, Suek said, Dimarzio Sanchez showed Whiteman how to strangle Rides Horse using a bandana.
Rides Horse was stripped naked and beaten unconscious, the prosecutor said.
Dimarzio Sanchez told Frank Sanchez to get a gas can from the trunk of the car, Suek said. Dimarzio Sanchez poured gasoline on Rides Horse and set her on fire, she said. The group then left the scene.
Rides Horse remained in the field for about 14 hours before being discovered and given emergency medical treatment, Suek said.
Investigators learned that Frank Sanchez had been at the scene and witnessed the crime but did not report it. In an April 19, 2016, interview with law enforcement, Frank Sanchez denied being present for the assault and gave a false alibi, Suek said.
In another interview almost two weeks later, Frank Sanchez provided a truthful account of what happened, Suek said.
In addition, Dimarzio Sanchez had given Frank Sanchez and his girlfriend, who had been in the car, Rides Horse’s jeans when they were dropped off at their home, Suek said. Frank Sanchez did not give the jeans to law enforcement, but law enforcement eventually retrieved the jeans from the girlfriend, she said.
Frank Sanchez faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $150,000 fine for his part.