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Knox awaits sentence for pouring gas on a woman with lighter in hand

by Jeff Smith of Anderson Broadcasting for the Valley Journal

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It took a Lake County jury less than three hours of deliberations before finding a Lakeside man guilty of four of five felony charges. Dustin Hayes Knox, 42, was accused of pouring gasoline on a woman after breaking into her Lake Vista Court home on July 5, 2018. 

The trial began Monday, Feb. 4, and wrapped up just before 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Knox was found guilty of assault with a weapon, aggravated assault, aggravated burglary and solicitation of tampering with witnesses or informants. He was found not guilty of robbery.

According to court records, the woman awoke to Knox standing over her holding a lighter and demanding money or he would set her on fire. He also said he would kill her. 

The woman was able to push past Knox and call out to her husband. The husband was in the living room and met Knox in the hallway. Knox allegedly threatened to kill the husband with the hammer he was holding. 

The husband and wife were able to flee their home. The husband got a photo of Knox. He also got a photo of the vehicle Knox was driving and the license plate number. Knox was arrested a short time later by authorities in Flathead County and was returned to Polson to face charges.

A Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputy located a water bottle containing what smelled like gasoline in the bedroom at the victims’ residence. The deputy also observed that the female victim smelled of gasoline, as did specific areas on the floor. The woman suffered chemical burns to her face and body. A hammer matching the one described by the husband was found in Knox’s car.

Lake County Deputy Attorney Ben Anciaux later added a solicitation charge when authorities intercepted a letter written by Knox to his girlfriend seeking help in getting others to stop the victim from testifying in the case.

District Judge James Manley set a sentencing date of March 20 at the request of Knox’s attorney Lisa Kaufman. The charges, Knox was convicted of, carry a combined maximum of 90 years in prison.

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