US Government Argues Away a Murder Charge


Montez Terriel Lee Jr., 26, pleaded guilty in July 2021 to a single count of arson in connection to the May 28, 2020, destruction of Max It Pawn Shop in Minneapolis. The Rochester man was sentenced to 120 months in prison Friday even though the fire he set killed a father of five who never escaped the basement. His family searched for his body for two months until an investigator found his remains.

Surveillance cameras captured Lee pouring a fire accelerant around the pawnshop and lighting the accelerant on fire.

A second video recorded Lee standing in front of the burning building, fist raised, saying, “[expletive] this place. We’re gonna burn this [expletive] down.”

He was allegedly standing up for George Floyd.

Oscar Lee Stewart Jr, dead at 30 years of age

Investigators discovered the remains of 30-year-old Oscar Lee Stewart Jr. on July 20, 2020, in the rubble of Max It Pawn Shop. Three months later, the Hennepin County medical examiner ruled Stewart’s death a homicide.

“This individual died from probable inhalation of products of combustion and thermal injury from an intentional building fire and manner of death is homicide,” states a summary of the autopsy.

According to a GoFundMe, Stewart left behind five kids between the ages of one and 12.

Allegedly, Lee looked to make sure no one was in the building, although there is no evidence of that. Does that matter?

So, who fought for Mr. Lee to escape the murder charge and all culpability in the matter? Why, the US government did.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Calhoun-Lopez argued for 144 months (12 years).

Calhoun-Lopez wrote in court documents:

“Mr. Lee’s motive for setting the fire is a foremost issue. Mr. Lee credibly states that he was in the streets to protest unlawful police violence against black men, and there is no basis to disbelieve this statement. Mr. Lee, appropriately, acknowledges that he ‘could have demonstrated in a different way,’ but that he was ‘caught up in the fury of the mob after living as a black man watching his peers suffer at the hands of police.’

As anyone watching the news world-wide knows, many other people in Minnesota were similarly caught up. There appear to have been many people in those days looking only to exploit the chaos and disorder in the interests of personal gain or random violence.

There appear also to have been many people who felt angry, frustrated, and disenfranchised, and who were attempting, in many cases in an unacceptably reckless and dangerous manner, to give voice to those feelings. Mr. Lee appears to be squarely in this latter category.

And even the great American advocate for non-violence and social justice, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stated in an interview with CBS’s Mike Wallace in 1966 that ‘we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.’”


He argued that Lee “does not appear to pose a danger to the public,” despite acknowledging Lee’s criminal history.

“Mr. Lee appears to be a thoughtful, intelligent man. He does have a terrible incident of domestic violence in his criminal history, in which he viciously assaulted a woman and ruptured her left eardrum,” said Calhoun-Lopez.

Lee also has prior convictions for burglary, violation of a no-contact order, and theft of property.

Here’s Another Take:

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