News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Ponemah man pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter

April 30, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS—Yesterday in federal court in Duluth, a 46-year-old man from the Red Lake Indian Reservation community of Ponemah pleaded guilty in connection with the August 19, 2012, death of Kaishauna Thunder. On April 29, 2013, Gordon Dean Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter. Johnson, who was indicted on January 8, 2013, entered his plea before United States District Court Chief Judge Michael J. Davis.

In his plea agreement, Johnson admitted that during the early morning of August 19, 2012, he killed Thunder without malice. Specifically, Johnson was operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, while under the influence of alcohol, when he struck Thunder, who was walking alongside State Highway 1.

For his crime, Johnson faces a potential maximum penalty of eight years in prison. Judge Davis will determine his sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled. This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Red Lake Tribal Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Clifford B. Wardlaw.

Because the Red Lake Indian Reservation is a federal-jurisdiction reservation, some of the crimes that occur there are investigated by the FBI in conjunction with the Red Lake Tribal Police Department. Those cases are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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