Tom Cotton calls on Merrick Garland for longer sentence for BLM arsonist

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Tom Cotton calls on Merrick Garland for longer sentence for BLM arsonist

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent an inquiry to US Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding answers regarding the lenient prison sentencing of a man convicted of burning down a pawn shop in Minneapolis, killing a 30-year-old man inside during the 2020 riots in response to George Floyd’s murder.

26-year-old Montez Terriel Lee, of Rochester, Minnesota, was sentenced in January to 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for setting fire to the Max It Pawn Shop on East Lake Street in Minneapolis on May 28, 2020, according to the Minnesota US Attorney’s Office.

Lee was caught on surveillance camera pouring fire accelerant around the shop before igniting it. As the building is destroyed, a second video recorded Lee in front of the shop saying “[expletive] this place. We’re gonna burn this [expletive] down,” prosecutors said.

On July 20, 2020, authorities discovered the body of a 30-year-old man in the rubble. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office attributed the man’s death to “probable inhalation of products of combustion and thermal injury (building fire).”

Montez Terriel Lee mugshot.
Montez Terriel Lee was sentenced in January to 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release
Department of Justice

In response to the sentencing, Sen. Cotton’s letter demanded answers from Garland on whether participation in a riot is a means for a reduced sentence for committing a violent crime.

He also requested a response on how the government could conclude that Lee “does not appear to pose a danger to the public,” per his sentencing memorandum, which stated that Lee had also been convicted of burglary, domestic violence, and theft.

In addition, he requested Garland “provide all communications between the United States Attorney’s Office for Minnesota and any political appointees at the Department of Justice regarding the sentencing recommendation for Montez Lee.”

Montez Terriel Lee setting fire to the building
Lee was caught on surveillance camera pouring fire accelerant around the shop before igniting it.
Department of Justice

Cotton said Lee should have been sentenced closer to 20 years.

“In August 2020, the United States Attorney’s Office in Minnesota indicted Lee on one count of Arson and he pleaded guilty on July 22, 2021. The sentencing guidelines called for a sentence of around 20 years. But the US Attorney’s office filed a Sentencing Memorandum asking for half this time. Most shockingly, the US Attorney defended Montez Lee and expressed sympathy for his murderous arson because Lee’s crime was committed during the BLM riots.

“Showing leniency towards a career criminal who committed murder is bad enough. But justifying the murder because the career criminal shares the Biden Administration’s politics is beyond the pale. The American people deserve to know whether leniency for left-wing murderers is the official policy of the Biden Department of Justice, or whether this travesty was a one-off.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland indicted Lee on one count of Arson.
AP

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