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Sannan pleads guilty of Chickamaw Beach house fire

WALKER — The 23-year-old Akeley man — charged with the Jan. 8 arson house fire in the Chickamaw Beach area, pleaded guilty Monday to third-degree attempted murder and first-degree arson in Cass County District Court, reported Cass County Attorney Christopher Strandlie.

The plea agreement for Brandon Todd Sannan calls for the offenses to be sentenced consecutively and for him to receive a total sentence of 10 years in prison.

The criminal complaint previously filed against Sannan alleges that he intentionally set fire to a home shortly after midnight Jan. 8 with knowledge that it was inhabited. In the home at the time of the fire were homeowners Timothy and Carla Volcke along with six minor grandchildren and another minor child. The people were able to safely evacuate the home, but were unable to save anything else.

The home was fully engulfed when the Pine River Fire Department was dispatched to he scene.

Investigators learned that the Volcke’s adult daughter Whitney had recently terminated a relationship with Sannan. They were told that Sannan had become increasingly possessive of Whitney and would send up to 100 text messages per day to her. It states that Saturday night, Sannan repeatedly texted her pleading for her to continue in a relationship. Some of the texts eventually included threats to have Whitney assaulted. Early in the morning Sunday, Sannan sent a text apologizing for what he had done.

Investigators learned that Sannan had spent the previous night at a nearby residence after fishing with relatives of the Volckes.

Sannan ultimately admitted to officers that he had stolen a lighter and a gas can from the residence and had walked to the Volcke residence. He stated that he knew that people were “probably” home as there were vehicles present and the lights were on in the house.

Sannan said he initially poured gas on the corner of the house and lit it on fire and walked away. As he was walking away, he observed the fire had gone out so he returned and used the lighter to ignite a wicker chair that was located on the deck. He then left and snuck back into the house where he was staying. The next day he got up and went fishing. His fishing partner advised that Sannan smelled strongly of gasoline that day.

Judge John Smith set Sannan’s sentencing for 1 p.m. June 11.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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