When I read the article, it mentioned the owner originally wanted a bar by the pool but the state was a little iffy on that proposition, so he covered the pool and made it a dance floor. I vaguely remember the old swimming pool enclosure and it was not a solid structure but more like a green house. Does make me want to open a Tiki bar, with torches and mugs of exotic drinks. Then burn it down when it goes south.
I have it in my head that the problem with the pool at the Aloha Lounge was more of a health code issue than a problem with the structure itself. Apparently the structure was good enough for a dance floor. And can you imagine the liability insurance for a bar with an indoor swimming pool in mid-1980's Miles City? It was only a matter of time before some drunken fool drowned or paralyzed themself.
I thought this was discussed on milescity.com before but I can't find it. The owner of the Aloha Lounge was a guy from the Billings/Huntley area. For a time the sign from the Red Rock Supper Club was in a field out in the Billings Heights on the south/east side of Old Highway 312 (aka Main Street).
I think the owner's last name was something like Canon and that he was suspected of arson in more than one instance.
"Based on the taped conversations between Canon, Virgil Fuller and Clinton Thompson, the statements in the letter Thompson wrote and mailed to himself, and other evidence in the case, a reasonable juror could have concluded Canon participated in a scheme to defraud Capitol by burning down the Aloha Lounge to collect the insurance proceeds. Canon argues, however, that the district court erred in admitting the tapes and the Thompson letter into evidence, and this so prejudiced his case that he is entitled to a new trial."
"Clinton Thompson wrote and mailed a letter to himself following a conversation he had with Canon. In the letter, Thompson stated Canon told him that Canon and Fuller "discussed burning down the Aloha Lounge," the approximate date the club would catch fire, and how the act would be committed. Over Canon's hearsay objection, the district court admitted the Thompson letter into evidence.
The substance of the Thompson letter goes to the heart of the case. We conclude the letter is relevant only with regard to the matters asserted in it. The letter could not be offered to prove the state of mind of Canon or Fuller, see Shepard v. United States, 290 U.S. 96, 104-06 (1933); Notes of Advisory Committee on Proposed Rules, Note to Paragraph (3), 28 U.S.C.A. Federal Rules of Evidence, Rules 701 to End, 179-278, and Thompson's state of mind is irrelevant. Thus, the letter is hearsay. See Fed.R.Evid. 801. Because it does not fall within any of the exceptions to the hearsay rule, see Fed.R.Evid. 803 and 804, the district court abused its discretion in admitting the letter into evidence, notwithstanding the district court's limiting instruction to the jury.
Although the tapes and other evidence in the case, if credited by the jury, would support the verdict, the Thompson letter was so prejudicial to Canon's case, we are compelled to vacate the judgment of the district court and grant Canon a new trial on Capitol's fraud claim and on Canon's counterclaim for payment of his interest under the insurance policy."