News and Press Releases

Tylrell John Connor Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls on July 19, 2010, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, TYRELL JOHN CONNOR, age 24, pled guilty to arson. Sentencing has been set for November 1, 2010. He is currently detained.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On September 9, 2007, CONNOR and a multitude of other juveniles and young adults were attending a party at a house near Wolf Point on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The house belonged to a family that was in the process of moving from the Wolf Point area to Great Falls, but no members of that family were present during the party.

During the course of the party, people began vandalizing the house and removing property from the house and outbuildings. At the end of the night, CONNOR and another person set fire to the house and burned it down.

Many of the party-goers were interviewed during the investigation, as was CONNOR. Some of those witnesses were initially untruthful about the fire, including CONNOR. However, during subsequent interviews, several witnesses told law enforcement that they either saw CONNOR and one other person start fires in the house, heard CONNOR and that other person talk about "torching" the house, or both.

When CONNOR was interviewed a second time, on September 16, 2009, he said that he was responsible for burning down the house. Specifically, CONNOR admitted that he was at the party on September 9, 2007, and that he was extremely drunk. He also said that he started a fire on the second floor of the house, though he did not remember how. And he admitted putting a container of kerosene on the stove, and then inside the stove, because he and the other person, referenced above, wanted the upstairs to be on fire. He also threw a second container of kerosene on a carpeted floor.

A deputy fire marshal conducted an origin and cause investigation at the scene the day after the party. He concluded that the house was a total loss and noted that some areas were still smoking and releasing heat. But the deputy fire marshal was unable to determine the precise location of the fire or fires and unable to draw any conclusion about which fire may have destroyed the house.

CONNOR faces possible penalties of 25 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and at least 5 years supervised release.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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