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Hardin woman sentenced for burning down a house

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Posted at 8:51 AM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 11:06:19-04

GREAT FALLS — Vanessa Faith Prettyontop of Hardin, who admitted that she burned down a house on the Crow Indian Reservation, was sentenced in federal court in Billings on Wednesday.

Prettyontop, 34 years old, also known as Vanessa Faith Gunshows, pleaded guilty in April to arson, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney General's Office.

Court documents state that on October 3, 2020, Prettyontop started a fire in a house owned by a person identified only as "John Doe."

Doe inherited the house and lived there until 2018, when he moved out due to furnace and water heater issues. When the fire occurred, Doe was nearly done with repairs and renovations and was approximately four weeks away from moving back into the house to live there full-time. The last time he slept in the house was in 2019 around Christmas.

Prior to starting the fire, Prettyontop broke a window in the front door and tried to break in but was unsuccessful. However, the backdoor was open. Prettyontop walked in the backdoor of the house. Inside the house, she prayed for forgiveness and then intentionally lit a mattress on fire using a lighter. The fire spread to the rest of the house. After she started the fire, Prettyontop walked out of the front door. The house was empty and burned to the ground.

Prettyontop then called 911 to turn herself in and confess.

Later, after she was read her Miranda rights, she again confessed to starting the fire. Prettyontop stated that she burned the house down because she was tired of everyone fighting about the house.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters presided and sentenced Prettyontop to 30 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.