Ronda Bird Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on March 2, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, RONDA BIRD, a 27-year-old resident of Browning, pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Sentencing has been set for June 13, 2011. She is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Weiss, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On July 24, 2010, after swimming and drinking whiskey with friends at a location north of East Glacier, Montana, BIRD got in the driver's seat of a car carrying three other passengers. A witness and passenger in the car told law enforcement that he was surprised by BIRD'S insistence on driving the group given that "she was right there drinking with us."
Approximately two to three miles down the road, they came upon a right hand bend in the road. One of the passengers in the car estimated she was traveling around 50 miles per hour. Another passenger in the car told BIRD to be careful and slow down. BIRD began to lose control going around the turn. She drifted seven feet across the center line. BIRD hit and killed a motorcyclist driving in the opposite direction.
In a study of the crash, the Montana Highway Patrol estimated that BIRD'S speed at the time of the crash was 46 miles per hour. The warning sign along the road alerted drivers that 35 miles per hour or less was the appropriate speed for this stretch of the road.
After the crash, BIRD was transported to the Northern Rockies Medical Center in Cut Bank, Montana. Personnel at the medical center drew BIRD'S blood. The state crime lab later advised that BIRD'S alcohol content - approximately four hours after the accident - was .06.
BIRD is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe.
BIRD faces possible penalties of 8 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Montana Highway Patrol.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.