Norman Juniper Bell 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 July 28, 2009, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, NORMAN JUNIPER BELL, a 25-year-old resident of Hays/Lodgepole, pled guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Sentencing is set for October 26, 2009. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebekah J. French, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
At approximately 5:00 a.m. on March 13, 2009, BELL rolled his truck after failing to negotiate a curve while driving south on Fort Belknap Road 345, which is within the exterior boundaries of the Fort Belknap Reservation. His passenger was thrown from the truck and suffered numerous injuries, the most serious of which were C-spine fractures with associated spinal cord injuries, rendering her quadriplegic.
BELL and the victim had both began drinking the previous evening and friends would have testified that they both appeared very intoxicated. The investigating officer would have testified that the crash occurred as a result of the driver's carelessness, excessive speed, and possible driver inattentiveness. The officer also noted in his report that he suspected alcohol and drugs to be contributing factors. BELL'S blood alcohol concentration two hours after the accident was .14.
BELL faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Montana Highway Patrol, the Fort Belknap Tribal Law Enforcement, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.