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Attorneys: Man was having psychotic episode when he beat children, set their bedroom on fire

Lyndon Greybear

Two psychologists concluded that a Fort Totten man who admitted Monday to beating two young boys, setting fire to the bedroom where they slept and then starting a nearby apartment on fire last November was having a psychotic episode at the time, attorneys said.

Lyndon Greybear, 30, pleaded guilty in Cass County District Court to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of endangering by fire or explosion.

Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Leah Viste said prosecutors agreed to drop two counts of attempted murder as part of the plea agreement because the psychologists found that Greybear was experiencing an "intoxication-related psychosis" during the Nov. 13 incident at 3301 16th Ave. S. in Fargo.

"This case is extremely tragic," Viste said, adding the prosecution and defense worked hard to find a just resolution for all involved.

Greybear and his girlfriend were visiting his female cousin in Fargo when the two women left the apartment to get medical care and groceries, leaving Greybear in charge of the 4- and 6-year-old boys, Viste said.

The boys' mother sobbed in the courtroom Monday as Viste related how Greybear 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 room 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.

Both boys were seriously injured and hospitalized. They've since been released. Viste wasn't aware of any permanent physical injuries, but both boys were "highly traumatized" by the event, she said.

Relatives of the victims declined to comment after the plea hearing.

Defense attorney Steven Mottinger said Greybear is "extremely distraught over this entire situation" and only remembers portions of the incident.

"This is totally out of character for him," he said. "There's nothing in his past background that would have suggested that anything like this would have ever happened."

Mottinger said the two psychological evaluations indicated Greybear had "some kind of a psychotic event or episode." He declined to discuss details, saying, "I think a lot of that will come out during his sentencing hearing."

Judge John Irby ordered a pre-sentence investigation, which typically takes about 60 days.

The three charges to which Greybear pleaded guilty are Class B felonies, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison, compared to a maximum of 20 years each for the Class A attempted murder charges that were dismissed.

"Mr. Greybear is aware that these are very, very serious charges, and frankly, we expect that if he gets the appropriate treatment he is not going to present a risk to society from here on out, but we are prepared for a jail sentence, a prison sentence, if Judge Irby determines that that's appropriate," Mottinger said.

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