SHERIDAN — Dana Beartusk appeared in Sheridan County Circuit Court Monday via video for an initial appearance. Beartusk faces three counts of first-degree murder for allegedly killing three family members in Big Horn.
If found guilty, Beartusk faces death, life imprisonment without parole or life imprisonment, according to law. First-degree murder carries the burden to the state to prove premeditation in committing the act of murder.
Judge Shelley Cundiff set bond at $750,000 cash only with no contact between Beartusk and his brother, a potential witness in the case, according to Sheridan County Prosecuting Attorney Dianna Bennett.
Sheridan County Dispatch received a call from a Montana resident and relative of Beartusk March 29, reporting Beartusk had killed three individuals at a residence in Big Horn, according to court documents filed March 30.
The victims include Beartusk’s wife, Angelina Beartusk, with whom he lived, his sister Seana Fisher and her son Mochdaveyano Fisher.
The reporting party relayed to law enforcement that Beartusk told him he was at a Holiday gas station in the Sheridan area and headed toward Montana.
When an officer arrived at the reported Big Horn residence, a single-wide trailer with fenced yard, the officer observed a male subject through the window, who was leaning forward with his head on the table and an apparent gunshot wound to the head. The officer drew his sidearm and entered the residence through the main door, which was unlocked, identified himself and ordered anyone present to show themselves, with no response.
A female subject was found on the floor, on the opposite side of the kitchen table from the male subject, also with an apparent gunshot wound to the head. The officer observed a second female subject lying on a bed in the north bedroom with a gunshot wound to the head.
As the officer approached the bedroom, a dog became protective of the deceased female subject on the bed, and the officer closed the bedroom door with the dog inside to prevent further contamination of the scene.
During Beartusk’s initial appearance, Bennett said the medical examiner on the case described the gunshot wounds as like an execution.
While the officer secured the scene and called supervisors outside the trailer, Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office deputies searched for Beartusk, who was later taken into custody in Big Horn County, Montana. He was found to be driving the same vehicle identified as his by his landlord.
During a neighborhood canvass, one neighbor told agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation they heard gunshots around 7:45 p.m. that evening. The neighbor allegedly exited their residence and observed a male in a red T-shirt arguing with someone on his cellphone.
Agents interviewed Beartusk in Lame Deer, Montana, though Beartusk made no statements. Agents collected a red T-shirt and observed blood spatter on his nose.
Upon searching Beartusk’s vehicle, law enforcement found one .40 caliber bullet on the front driver’s side floorboard.
Because Beartusk is alleged to have fled Sheridan County to Montana after the alleged crime, Bennett said he is a serious flight risk and danger to the community.
Beartusk’s full criminal history is unknown at the time, but apparently limited to DUI citations in Sheridan County from several years ago, Bennett said.
The court advised Beartusk to move forward with obtaining court-appointed counsel. Beartusk made no statements during the hearing other than to question why he could not contact his brother.
The man will appear for a preliminary hearing in court at a later date, with defense counsel.