Elwyn “jack” Has The Eagle Sentenced in U.S. District Court As Part Of The U.S. Attorney’s Office Fearless Justice Initiative
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on November 29, 2010, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, ELWYN HAS THE EAGLE, commonly known as Jack Has The Eagle, a 57-year-old resident of Lodge Pole, appeared for sentencing. HAS THE EAGLE was sentenced to a term of:
- Prison: 108 months
- Supervised Release: 3 years
HAS THE EAGLE was sentenced after a federal district court trial in which he was found guilty of obstruction of justice and witness tampering. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad prosecuted the case for the United States.
At trial, the following evidence and testimony was presented to the jury. During the early morning hours of December 17, 2008, HAS THE EAGLE's son, Jay Has The Eagle, entered the home of an elderly Fort Belknap couple, Doreen Manzanares, 63, and Calvin Snell, 69. Jay Has The Eagle stabbed both victims to death and fled.
Earlier, in the evening hours of December 16, Jay Has The Eagle had been in the company of a girlfriend, who had lived with Jay Has The Eagle for about three months prior to the murders, and who gave a statement to law enforcement and a witness to the events of December 16, 2008, just hours before the murders.
Jay Has The Eagle was indicted by a federal Grand Jury and charged with two counts of First Degree Murder and two counts of Felony Murder. Felony murder occurs when someone is killed during the commission of another felony crime. In June of 2009, Has The Eagle, through his attorney, notified the Court that he was going to rely on an insanity defense.
Jay Has The Eagle's girlfriend testified in the trial of HAS THE EAGLE that for several months prior to the murder trial, beginning in about June of 2009, she had received calls from HAS THE EAGLE urging her to testify that Jay Has the Eagle was "crazy" at the time of the murders. When she was served with a subpoena to testify by the FBI, on October 19, 2009, she disclosed to the agent that HAS THE EAGLE was urging her to say certain things about Jay Has The Eagle's mental condition and degree of intoxication on the night of the murders that were not true. The FBI then arranged with her to record telephone conversations with HAS THE EAGLE. In recorded conversations on October 19 and October 20, 2009, HAS THE EAGLE told the girlfriend to testify that Jay was "hearing voices", that he was "drunk", and that she needed to "stick to the story". The prosecution played for the jury the recordings of the telephone calls as evidence of obstruction and witness tampering. During the October 20, 2009 conversation, the witness said to Has The Eagle "you want me to lie" to which the defendant responded by coaching her on how to lie, stating "Yeah. Just tell him, yeah, he heard voices. He tells you he heard voices." When the witness said to HAS THE EAGLE that she knew Jay's mental health was intact on the night of the murders, the defendant replied, "Yeah. But ... that's the only ... [way] he can get out of it. I won't lie that I think he's crazy ... that's why he wants you, you know, tell them that he hears voices when you was with them at the house." In the October 20, 2009 call, the defendant could be heard telling the witness that "[i]t"s the only way you can get him out of there. On four charges, four death charges. He's facing four life sentences." The witness also testified that on the night of the murders, while Jay Has The Eagle had been drinking he did not appear to be drunk, and that she had never heard him claim that he was hearing voices.
The witness told the jury that there were several other phone conversations, such as those occurring prior to notification of the FBI. On October 24, 2009, the Saturday before the Jay Has The Eagle trial, the witness testified that she received a call from HAS THE EAGLE in which the defendant threatened to "take [her] out" if she did not give false testimony at Jay's murder trial. Afraid, distraught, and in a state of high anxiety, she contacted the FBI who arranged to pick her up and place her in a hotel for the evening. An FBI Victim Witness Specialist told the jury that when she arrived at the residence, the witness was waiting outside her residence clutching a knife, shaking, and extremely upset. The witness ultimately was called by the defense to testify at the Jay Has The Eagle trial but did not perjure herself as HAS THE EAGLE had instructed.
On October 29, 2009, Jay Has The Eagle was convicted of the second degree murder of Calvin Snell; the first degree murder of Doreen Manzanares with malice aforethought and with premeditation; and the felony murders of Calvin Snell and Doreen Manzanares with malice aforethought and in perpetration of the burglary of the house occupied by Calvin Snell and Doreen Manzanares. On February 1, 2010, Has The Eagle, Jr., was sentenced to serve two consecutive life terms in prison.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that HAS THE EAGLE will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, HAS THE EAGLE 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 conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as part of the newly created Fearless Justice Initiative in the District of Montana. The Initiative is designed to strengthen public safety efforts in Montana's Indian communities through the suppression of intimidation and coercion of victims and witnesses to crime. The Initiative, spearheaded by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Montana, is the first of its kind in the nation.