2 accused of burning, strangling woman on Crow Reservation

AP News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2016 6:49 PM

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Two people were charged in federal court Wednesday in the vicious assault of a woman who was beaten, strangled and set on fire on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation.

Dimarzio Sanchez and Angelica Jo Whiteman appeared separately in U.S. District Court in Billings before Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby on charges of assault with intent to commit murder and aiding and abetting.

They did not enter pleas and were ordered back into custody pending further proceedings.

Whiteman's defense attorney, Clifford Vernon, said following Wednesday's court appearance that it was too early in the process for him to make a statement about the case.

Sanchez's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment

The victim, who survived, has been identified by family members as RoyLynn Rides Horse.

The assault attracted widespread attention from tribal leaders and state lawmakers, who expressed frustration at the sparse details by investigators prior to Wednesday's hearing.

FBI Special Agent Aaron Christensen said in a court affidavit that the victim was at the Kirby Saloon in Kirby late on April 17 and got a ride home with the defendants.

Following an argument, Christensen says the two defendants beat and attempted to strangle Rides Horse, then doused her with gasoline and set her on fire in a field east of Crow Agency.

Rides Horse remained in the field for 14 hours before she was discovered. She suffered burns over 45 percent of her body and frostbite on her legs, according to court documents.

She's being treated at a burn center in Utah.

Four other people who were not named in the affidavit were in the vehicle Rides Horse and the suspects when the attack happened, according to Christensen. Three of those people provided law enforcement with information about what happened, the FBI agent stated.

Sanchez is a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, according to the affidavit. Whiteman is a member of the Crow Tribe.

FBI spokeswoman Sandra Barker said the agency was not releasing further details on the circumstances surrounding the suspects' arrests.