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Man sentenced in Cass County arson, attempted murder case

Brandon Sannan

Cass County Attorney Christopher Strandlie reports that Brandon Todd Sannan age 23, has been sentenced for the offenses of Attempted Murder in the Third Degree and Arson in the First Degree. Ninth District Judge John Smith sentenced Sannan to serve 72 months in prison on the Attempted Murder charge and an additional 48 months on the Arson charge. Both sentences are consistent with the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.

The criminal complaint previously filed by Strandlie alleges that shortly after midnight on January 8, 2012, Sannan intentionally set fire to a home with knowledge that it was inhabited. At 12:16 a.m. homeowners Timothy and Carla Voelke reported that their home, located in the City of Chickama Beach was on fire.

The Pine River Fire Department dispatched to the scene and found the house fully engulfed in flames upon arrival. The home was a total loss. The State Fire Marshall was contacted as arson was the suspected cause of the fire. After determining that arson was the cause of the fire the Cass County Sheriff's Department and the Pine River Police Department were contacted to assist in a criminal investigation. The investigation revealed that the Voelkes were at home with 6 minor grandchildren and another minor child when the blaze was discovered. They were able to safely evacuate the premises however were unable to save anything else. Investigators learned that the Voelkes' 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. The investigation revealed that throughout the evening of January 7th, 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 of January 8th, Sannan sent a text apologizing for what he had done.

Investigators learned that Sannan had spent the night at a nearby residence after fishing with relatives of the Voelkes on January 7th. Sannan ultimately admitted to officers that he had stolen a lighter and a gas can from that residence and had walked to the Voelke residence. He stated that he knew that people were "probably" home as there were vehicles present and lights on in the house. He said that he initially poured case on the corner of the house and lit it on fire and walked away. As he was walking away, he observed that 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.