Anthony D. Melbourne Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Great Falls on March 17, 2009, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, ANTHONY D. MELBOURNE, a 22-year-old resident of Poplar, pled guilty to second degree murder. Sentencing is set for June 25, 2009. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On July 3, 2002, just after midnight, MELBOURNE, and two other individuals, W.R.S. and M.E., were standing near 802 D Street East in Poplar. At the same time, another individual, W.M., was driving his car and turned onto D Street. He was flagged down by MELBOURNE and M.E. W.M. had a short conversation with MELBOURNE and M.E., and then began to drive away. As he pulled away, MELBOURNE reached in through the driver's side window and stabbed W.M. in the left bicep. Shortly thereafter, W.M. went to the hospital and received three stitches to close the wound to his bicep.
Just after MELBOURNE stabbed W.M., 19-year-old J.L. rode his bicycle past 802 D Street East. MELBOURNE, M.E., and W.R.S. were still present at that location. MELBOURNE had fought in the past with J.L., and MELBOURNE had vowed to get even with him.
As J.L. passed by, MELBOURNE said something to him. J.L. stopped and got off of his bicycle. MELBOURNE then attacked J.L. M.E. and W.R.S. joined in the attack against J.L. J.L. had no weapons.
During the fight, MELBOURNE stabbed J.L. with a knife multiple times all over J.L.'s body. MELBOURNE continued to stab J.L. while J.L. was calling for help and trying to get away. M.E. and W.R.S. also had a knife and stabbed J.L.
J.L. eventually got away from MELBOURNE and went down the street four houses to his father's house, leaving a trail of blood. MELBOURNE left after stabbing J.L.
At 12:33 a.m., a Roosevelt County Sheriff's deputy was dispatched to D Street following a report of an assault on someone riding a bike. After reaching D Street, the deputy observed J.L.'s body slumped on the steps leading into J.L.'s father's house. The deputy approached J.L. and noticed that one of J.L.'s eyes was closed and the other one was partially open.
The deputy heard a grunting sound come from J.L.'s body. The deputy felt for a pulse and could not find one. J.L. was transported to the Poplar Community Hospital, arriving there at 12:50 a.m. Efforts were made to resuscitate him, but they were not successful. J.L. was pronounced dead at 1:02 a.m. Following his death, fourteen stab wounds and eight distinct slash wounds were observed on J.L.'s body. One of the stab wounds pierced J.L.'s heart and caused a rapid death.
W.M. was at the hospital receiving treatment for the stab wound that MELBOURNE had inflicted on him when J.L. was pronounced dead. W.M. told a police officer at the hospital about MELBOURNE and M.E. The officers who were investigating J.L.'s death then began to look for them.
MELBOURNE was located a couple of blocks from D Street. Officers heard movement in a shed and saw MELBOURNE stick his head out of the shed. MELBOURNE was subsequently apprehended and his shoes were collected.
After apprehending MELBOURNE, officers searched the shed. A silver knife was located inside. The knife and MELBOURNE'S shoes were sent to the FBI laboratory for testing.
Blood was identified on one of MELBOURNE'S shoes. J.L.'s DNA was also identified on MELBOURNE'S shoe. Blood was identified on the knife that was found in the shed. J.L.'s DNA was also identified on the knife. In addition, MELBOURNE'S palm print was identified on the knife from the shed.
MELBOURNE faces possible penalties of life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and 5 years supervised release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad prosecuted the case for the United States.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Roosevelt County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Glasgow, and the Fort Peck Tribes Criminal Investigation Division.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.