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Prosecutor calls Billings South Side murder 'vicious execution'

pretty on top, melvin.png
Posted at 12:52 PM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-15 13:16:11-05

A Billings man pleaded not guilty to homicide outside the Colonial apartments last month in what prosecutors described Friday as an "unprovoked, cold-blooded, vicious execution."

Melvin Pretty On Top, 23, made his first appearance in Yellowstone County District court Friday to answer to one count of deliberate homicide and one count of tampering with evidence.

Judge Ashley Harada set his bond at $500,000. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 9.

Court documents filed Thursday by Yellowstone County Chief Deputy Attorney Ed Zink provided the first details into what happened Dec. 21 on Billings South Side, when Pretty On Top is alleged to have shot and killed 48-year-old Troy Chaney of Billings.

Surveillance footage obtained by police showed Pretty On Top walk up to a van parked in the 2600 block of Third Avenue South facing the Colonial apartments on the night of the murder, according to court documents. The Colonial has been identified by police as a frequent site of criminal complaints, and city officials are boosting enforcement of code violations there.

Pretty On Top was seen opening the passenger door and allegedly firing twice into the van. He then dragged a man, later identified as Chaney, out of the driver's seat, tossed him to the ground and drove away, according to documents.

Footage showed Chaney stagger to get up, then collapse again. About four minutes later, the van returned, and Pretty On Top allegedly got out, walked over to Chaney, stood above him and shot him two more times, according to court documents. He kicked Chaney two more times before getting in the van and driving away, according to prosecutors.

Chaney was taken to a local hospital once responders arrived, where he died.

The next day, police found the van parked outside a residence at 213 S. 31st St. Officers and a SWAT team detained six people inside for questioning, and they allegedly identified Pretty On Top as the shooter, according to prosecutors. Two allegedly said they saw him with the handgun.

Officers found Pretty On Top at an apartment at the Colonial with another woman and took him in for questioning.

He allegedly admitted to shooting and killing Chaney and told police he did it "for no reason," according to charging documents. He also said he went out to the van because a woman he identified as his mother told him to do so, according to the documents.

Pretty On Top said he gave the gun to a woman for disposal, and police said they haven't recovered the murder weapon.

Police also interviewed the woman found at the Colonial with Pretty On Top, who said she left with him after the shooting and saw Chaney lying in the street.