Citing a lengthy, violent criminal record, South Central District Judge Bruce Haskell imposed life in prison with the possibility of parole upon the man convicted from a 15-hour standoff in 2015.
At trial last fall, a jury convicted 38-year-old Branden Lyon of attempted murder, two counts of terrorizing and illegal possession of a firearm related to the standoff with police in October 2015 in east Bismarck. Under a statutory procedure for sentencing habitual offenders, Haskell imposed the life sentence despite Lyon pointing to his difficult childhood and history of head injuries and drug use.
“Obviously when we get to be adults, we’re responsible for our decisions that we make but it’s quite clear from very early on in Mr. Lyon’s life that this is a case where I would say Mr. Lyon may have not had the best of chances to succeed in life,” defense attorney Tom Glass said.
Lyon described for Haskell a series of personal tragedies that included drug use, head injuries and his daughter’s death.
“I never tried to come in your court and lie and get away with anything,” he said. “I just came in and I know what I did. I know I deserve some time.”
Haskell noted Lyon's criminal history, including assaults, robberies and domestic violence, as well as his convictions last fall "that pretty much are the pinnacle of what a person can commit as offenses, short of murder."
“To be honest, Mr. Lyon, I don’t think that you deserve any sort of chances or consideration,” he said. “I think you’re a dangerous person and that I have a duty to society to make sure that nobody else is going to get terrorized or nobody else is going to get hurt by your actions.”
Haskell then imposed life in prison with the possibility of parole for attempted murder as well as three concurrent five-year sentences for Lyon's terrorizing and firearm convictions.
Burleigh County Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Julie Lawyer recommended consecutive sentences totaling 50 years, utilizing the habitual offender statute.
She said the statute “allows the judge to sentence up to the next level of offense,” such as a Class A felony sentenced as a Class AA felony, as in Lyon’s case.
"We believe that this sentence would serve the ends of justice and give him some time to get treatment done and to keep him out of the community until he can get that done," she told Haskell in her recommendation for sentencing.
Glass asked Haskell to not find Lyon as a habitual offender, and recommended eight years for attempted murder with three five-year sentences for the other convictions, all with but the mandatory minimums suspended. He declined to comment on sentencing.
Haskell also left the issue of restitution open for 30 days, related to an insurance company’s estimate of $221,727.81 in damage to the home, 703 N. 35th St., at the scene of the standoff. Lawyer said the house sustained damages from gunshots and tear gas.
“The home was basically totaled,” she said.