A Billings woman admitted on Wednesday that she helped to murder a Crow Agency woman, who died last year after being beaten and set on fire with gasoline.
Angelica Jo Whiteman, 24, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting first-degree murder during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Susan Watters in Billings.
Whiteman is the second of three people charged in the murder of Roylynn Rides Horse, 28, to plead guilty to charges. She faces a mandatory life in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
However, under the terms a plea agreement, Whiteman could receive a shorter sentence based on a recommendation from the prosecution if Whiteman provides “substantial assistance.”
Assistance includes giving complete information in the case and providing truthful testimony if called as a witness, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Suek. Information that Whiteman may provide could not be used against her at sentencing, the deal said.
Whiteman; co-defendant, Dimarzio Swade Sanchez, 19, of Busby; and Sanchez’s brother, Frank James Sanchez, 19, all were charged in Rides Horse’s death.
Earlier in August, Watters ruled that Dimarzio Sanchez was mentally competent to stand trial on first degree murder charges. He is facing trial on Dec. 4. Frank Sanchez pleaded guilty earlier to failing to report a felony and to being an accessory after the fact. He is awaiting sentencing.
Prosecutors allege the defendants beat Rides Horse into unconsciousness on April 17, 2016, near Castle Rock Road on the Crow Reservation, set her on fire with gasoline and left her in a field. She remained in the field for 14 hours before being found and given emergency treatment.
Rides Horse suffered third-degree burns over 45 percent of her body and severe frostbite on her legs. She died on June 28, 2016 at the Salt Lake City University Burn Center, where she was transported for treatment.
Suek outlined Whiteman’s role saying Rides Horse and her common law husband were at the Kirby Saloon in Kirby when they got into an argument and Rides Horse asked Whiteman for a ride home.
Rides Horse followed Whiteman outside to a car and her husband followed, Suek said. Whiteman called to Dimarzio Sanchez for help, and Sanchez confronted the husband, who went back into the bar.
Rides Horse and Whiteman then got into a car driven by Dimarzio Sanchez and occupied by four others, including Frank Sanchez. The group headed toward Crow Agency, dropping off at least one of the passengers along the way.
During the drive, Whiteman, who was in the front seat, began arguing with Rides Horse, who was in the back seat, Suek said. Whiteman jumped into the back seat and began beating Rides Horse.
Whiteman told Dimarzio Sanchez to turn the car around, and he drove up Castle Rock Road where he stopped.
Whiteman then dragged Rides Horse out of the car, continued to beat her and tried to strangle her, Suek said.
At one point, Dimarzio Sanchez showed Whiteman how to strangle Rides Horse by using a bandanna, the prosecutor said. Rides Horse was then stripped naked and beaten into unconsciousness.
Dimarzio Sanchez told his brother, Frank, to get a gas can from the trunk of the car, Suek said. Dimarzio Sanchez poured gas on Rides Horse and set her on fire, she said. Both brothers, Whiteman and the two remaining passengers left.
Whiteman disputed some of the government’s evidence. Whiteman, who cried and sniffled through most of her statement, said she did not jump in the back seat because it was too crowded but beat Rides Horse from the front seat.
Once the car stopped, everybody got out and she and Rides Horse continued fighting, Whiteman said.
Dimarzio Sanchez, she continued, began to strangle Rides Horse with a bandanna and then told her to do it as well. “I strangled Lynn,” she said.
Whiteman also said Rides Horse was not beaten unconscious, but was awake and moving “when Dimarzio lit her on fire.”
Watters set sentencing for Jan. 3, 2018. Whiteman remains in custody.