Bernetta Rose Walking Eagle Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on July 25, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, BERNETTA ROSE WALKING EAGLE, a 31-year-old resident of Poplar, pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Sentencing has been set for November 14, 2011. She is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica A. Betley, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On June 26, 2010, WALKING EAGLE was at "CCB"s house in Poplar, which is within the exterior boundaries of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. WALKING EAGLE and "CCB" had been in an on-and-off again relationship for some time. In June 2010, WALKING EAGLE and "CCB" had been fighting frequently and "CCB" was trying to get WALKING EAGLE to move out of his house. "CCB" had a history of physically abusing WALKING EAGLE.
On July 26, 2010, WALKING EAGLE and "CCB" were the only two people home. Neighbors had heard the two of them arguing throughout the day. Around 4:46 p.m., WALKING EAGLE went to her neighbor's house. WALKING EAGLE told her neighbor to call 911 because "Charlie, he fell, he's full of blood. He's full of blood he fell." The neighbor called for an ambulance.
In fact, WALKING EAGLE and "CCB" had been fighting throughout the day. "CCB" had pushed WALKING EAGLE around, and at one point, punched her in the face with his fist which resulted in a black eye to WALKING EAGLE. WALKING EAGLE attempted to defend herself against "CCB". However, WALKING EAGLE got a kitchen knife and stabbed "CCB" one time in the chest.
Meanwhile, "CCB"s daughter heard over a police scanner that an ambulance had been dispatched to his house. "CCB"s daughter and her husband went to the house and found "CCB" face down on the floor. They shook "CCB" and he replied, "damn, my chest hurts, but I'll be okay." There were clothes and food thrown around the room and it appeared a fight had taken place in the house.
CCB" was asked who had done this to him and he made facial movements toward WALKING EAGLE. Police and ambulance personnel then arrived at the house. WALKING EAGLE was crying, smelled of alcohol and had blood on her arm. Officers found a knife on the floor with blood on it. An officer asked how WALKING EAGLE got blood on her arm and she replied it was from holding "CCB"s hand. Officers observed that WALKING EAGLE's left eye was swollen and was starting to turn black and blue.
WALKING EAGLE was transported to the jail and she declined to speak with law enforcement. "CCB" was transported to the emergency room where he died around 5:32 p.m. An autopsy was performed and it was determined "CCB" had sustained a single penetrating stab wound to his left upper chest and he died by cardiac suffering. There were no defensive or offensive wounds found on "CCB".
The knife and bloody towels collected from "CCB"s house were sent to the FBI crime lab. "CCB" was found to be the major contributor of DNA found on the knife. There were no latent fingerprints of value detected on the knife. WALKING EAGLE's clothes from the time of the incident were also sent to the crime lab. Blood was found on her clothing and "CCB" was found to be the major contributor of DNA obtained from the clothes.
WALKING EAGLE faces possible penalties of 8 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.