A Busby man charged with first-degree murder in the beating and burning death of a Crow Agency woman last year has agreed to admit to lesser crimes.
In court records filed on Wednesday In U.S. District Court in Billings, Frank James Sanchez, 19, reached a plea deal with prosecutors to admit to failing to report a felony and to accessory after the fact.
New charging documents allege Sanchez knew that his two co-defendants, Dimarzio Swade Sanchez, 19, of Busby, and Angelica Jo Whiteman, 24, of Billings, had killed the victim, Roylynn Rides Horse, 28, with “malice aforethought and premeditation” and did not report it to authorities.
The prosecution also alleges that Frank Sanchez aided his co-defendants to prevent their arrest and prosecution.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters set a plea change hearing for March 14.
Frank Sanchez initially faced a mandatory life sentence if convicted of first degree murder. He faces a maximum 15 years in prison and a $125,000 fine on the accessory crime. The murder charge is to be dismissed at sentencing if the judge accepts the plea agreement.
Prosecutors allege that on April 17, 2016, Rides Horse left the Kirby Saloon in a vehicle with the defendants and others and that Whiteman and Rides Horse got into an argument. The argument turned physical, and Dimarzio Sanchez drove to an area near Castle Rock Road between Crow Agency and Busby.
Whiteman dragged Rides Horse out of the car, beat her and tried to strangle her to death, court records said. Dimarzio Sanchez asked another person, identified by the initials F.S., to get a gas can out of the trunk.
Witnesses told investigators that Rides Horse was doused with gasoline, lit on fire and left in the field.
Rides Horse was found about 14 hours later and flown to a burn center at University of Utah Healthcare in Salt Lake City. She suffered third-degree burns on 45 percent of her body and died on June 28.
Dimarzio Sanchez and Whiteman are awaiting trial.