Posted: May 13, 2013 2:39 PM by Angela Douglas - MTN News
BILLINGS - Two Billings men facing negligent homicide charges after a deadly house fire in Lockwood entered pleas in Yellowstone County District Court Monday morning.
Zaccary Kern, 21, and Robert Bottenhagen, 21, are accused of causing a fire on April 18 that led to the deaths of four Billings residents.
Standing before Judge Gregory Todd, Kern pleaded not guilty to four counts of negligent homicide and, inthe alternative, four counts of negligent homicide by accountability. He also pleaded not guilty to one count of tampering with witnesses and informants.
Bottenhagen pleaded not guilty to all of his charges as well. Bottenhagen is facing four counts of negligent homicide and one count of tampering with witnesses and informants.
Donavon Fogle, 25, Amber-Marie Beyers, 33, Troy Saylor, 28, and Brandi Hansen Moats, 25, died of smoke inhalation in the early morning house fire at 206 Hemlock Drive.
According to an affidavit, Bottenhagen told detectives that he and Kern ran into Donovan Fogle at the Wild West on the evening on Wednesday, April 17. Bottenhagen said Fogle invited them to house on Hemlock for an after party. Bottenhagen and Kern said they attended the party, but denied involvement in the fire. Both men requested attorneys during the interview process.
According to the charging documents, Kern's girlfriend told detectives that the suspects told her that Bottenhagen had lit an apron on fire in the kitchen. She stated the men said they stomped out the fire, but left the residence with small flames still burning.
The charging documents indicate the four other people in the house had already gone to bed by the time the apron was lit on fire.
The morning after the fire, Kern's girlfriend and another female witness drove the two men to the burned house. The witness said the men panicked. She told detectives that Bottenhagen had contemplated the idea of fleeing from Billings, but she convinced him to go to authorities instead.
Both men are being held on $150,000 bonds.