News and Press Releases

Jesse Lee Knife Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Monday, November 02, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on November 2, 2009, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, JESSE LEE KNIFE, a 29-year-old resident of Box Elder, appeared for sentencing. KNIFE was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 63 months
  • Special Assessment: $200
  • Restitution: $38,898.82
  • Supervised Release: 3 years

KNIFE was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to two counts of assault resulting in serious bodily injury .

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:

On November 29, 2008, KNIFE attended a party on the Rocky Boy's Reservation. A couple who live in Missoula, identified here as "R" & "T", were also at the party. A fight broke out because "R" objected to KNIFE making romantic overtures to "T". KNIFE left the party with a number of people, including his sister and his common-law wife.

KNIFE drove his sister's car to his house, dropping his wife off on the way. KNIFE'S sister and the others remained at KNIFE'S house, while he started back to the party site in his own truck.

In the meantime, "R" & "T" decided to leave the party in their van. Two other individuals left with them, including "K", who had fallen asleep in the van's third row of seats. They were driving east on Upper Box Elder Road when a truck came speeding up behind them and ran into the back of the van, causing them to drive off the road and flip over.

The Montana Highway Patrol trooper who investigated the collision would have testified that the KNIFE, the driver of the truck, intentionally rammed the rear of the van. The trooper found that the van's driver did not contribute to the collision. He would have further testified that KNIFE contributed to the accident by operating a motor vehicle in an erratic, reckless, careless, or negligent manner.

When interviewed, KNIFE admitted that he was driving the truck that hit the van. He also admitted that he was highly intoxicated and going too fast, and that he misjudged the distance between his truck and the van. KNIFE'S blood alcohol level was tested about 6 hours after the accident and was .051.

K" and "T" were transported to the Northern Montana Hospital by ambulance and then to the hospital in Great Falls by air ambulance. "K" had from sternal fractures, pulmonary contusions, and a C -T1 fracture/dislocation. "T's" injuries included a spinal fracture that required surgery.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that KNIFE will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, KNIFE does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Montana Highway Patrol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Rocky Boy's Tribal Law Enforcement.



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