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Published January 02 2013

Man gets 9 years for assaulting boys, starting fire

FARGO – A Fort Totten man who admitted to beating two young boys and setting fire to the bedroom where they slept offered a tearful apology in court Wednesday, saying he was hallucinating at the time.

“I do not ask the family to forgive me, because I wouldn’t be able to forgive me,” 30-year-old Lyndon Greybear said in Cass County District Court.

During an emotional hearing, Judge John Irby sentenced Greybear to nine years in prison and four years of supervised probation. He received credit for 416 days in jail.

Greybear pleaded guilty in October to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of endangering by fire or explosion. Two attempted murder charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

He and his girlfriend were visiting his female cousin in Fargo on Nov. 13, 2011, when the two women left the apartment at 3301 16th Ave. S. to get medical care and groceries, leaving Greybear in charge of the 4- and 6-year-old boys.

During Greybear’s plea hearing, prosecutor Leah Viste described how he beat the children, urinated on them, grabbed them by the throat and threw them in the closet in the bedroom of the third-floor apartment. Greybear set the bedroom and one of the boy’s pants on fire before exiting out the balcony of the locked apartment, she said. He then went to another apartment unit and wrapped his shirt around the door handle and set it on fire, she said.

The boys were seriously injured and traumatized, said Viste, an assistant state’s attorney.

Their mother, trembling and crying, delivered a victim impact statement in court Wednesday, saying Greybear ruined the family’s lives.

“My innocent and precious children never deserved to be tortured the way Lyndon tortured them,” said the mother, who added the family has been homeless and in debt since the fire. She said Greybear ruined her reputation as a parent and should be punished “to the full extent for his disgusting actions.”

Greybear’s appointed attorney, Steven Mottinger, who has defended a number of murder suspects, told the judge it was “probably the most tragic case I’ve ever had to deal with.”

Two psychological evaluations indicated Greybear suffered a psychotic episode brought on by intoxication, and he had no significant memory of the event, attorneys said.

Dan Traynor, a Devils Lake attorney, traveled to Fargo to testify in support of Greybear, saying he has known him for several years and helped him in a dispute with his girlfriend, with whom he has five children.

“From all that I’ve ever seen of him, he’s a loving, responsible father,” Traynor said, adding the Fargo incident “is so far out of his character,” he couldn’t believe it happened.

In a tearful statement to the court, Greybear said his grandmother raised him to be a good man, and he has been a caring father to his five children.

“I apologize for hallucinating, for if I wasn’t hallucinating, such a thing would never have happened,” he said.

Greybear also asked for forgiveness for what he called the mother’s “negligence” for leaving the boys alone with him.

“Those children should never have been left with a stranger, especially an intoxicated stranger,” he said.

The boys’ mother had told police that Greybear wasn’t intoxicated when she left the apartment.

Before leaving the courtroom in tears, she said to him, “We’re not strangers, Lyndon. You’re my cousin.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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