Bruce Wayne Eagleman, Jr. Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on December 18, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, BRUCE WAYNE EAGLEMAN, JR., a 25-year-old resident of Crow Agency and an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe of Indians, pled guilty to second degree murder. Sentencing has been set for March 21, 2013. He 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 November 23, 2011, the Hardin City Court ordered EAGLEMAN to participate in the 24/7 sobriety program in Bighorn County. EAGLEMAN had just been arrested for disorderly conduct, criminal trespass to property, an open container violation, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after he admitted to drinking a gallon of gin on the day of his arrest.
The 24/7 sobriety program became law in Montana on October 1, 2011. The program is designed to address the most serious alcohol offenders in the state, and also, to verify that these people are not drinking and driving. Pursuant to this program, the Hardin Court ordered EAGLEMAN to take a breath test twice a day - the first between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and the second between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The Hardin City Court was also familiar with EAGLEMAN due to his previous driving under the influence conviction. On July 11, 2008, EAGLEMAN pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol after he stated he drank twelve, 24-ounce, cans of beer. EAGLEMAN, who is 25-years-old, also has never had a valid driver's license.
During the morning of December 29, 2011, EAGLEMAN's mother drove him from Crow Agency to Hardin to take his morning breath test. EAGLEMAN and his mother then returned to Crow Agency. Sometime in the early afternoon, EAGLEMAN took his mother's 2006 Dodge Durango and said he was leaving to go check the mail. Instead, EAGLEMAN left the house and met up with Z.Z.
EAGLEMAN and Z.Z. drove to a friend's house in Crow Agency. Everyone discussed driving to Hardin. Shortly thereafter, EAGLEMAN, Z.Z., and a friend drove to Hardin. EAGLEMAN drove his mother's Durango. EAGLEMAN and Z.Z. had already drank four malt liquors earlier in the afternoon. As EAGLEMAN drove to Hardin, the friend said EAGLEMAN began to drive more erratically.
EAGLEMAN first drove to a pawn shop, where he pawned a few items and received $10.00. EAGLEMAN used the $10 to buy a liter of Nikolai gin. EAGLEMAN next drove to another pawn shop. At the pawnshop, an employee observed that EAGLEMAN was extremely intoxicated. But, she saw EAGLEMAN leave and get in the driver's seat of the Durango.
After leaving the pawn shops, EAGLEMAN made a few more stops for gas and at another friend's house. Finally, he drove to the grocery store where he purchased two cans of Mike's Hard Lemonade and left the store. EAGLEMAN dropped the friend off in Hardin, which left just Z.Z. in the car with EAGLEMAN. EAGLEMAN then drove back to Crow Agency.
EAGLEMAN drove back to Crow Agency by way of the two-lane East Frontage Road. Initially he drove in the correct lane of travel - the southbound lane. At approximately 5:40 p.m., however, EAGLEMAN crossed into the northbound lane of the road and directly in front of S.S.'s oncoming car. S.S. attempted to drive to the left to avoid the oncoming crash, but was unsuccessful. The passenger side of EAGLEMAN's Durango collided with the passenger side of S.S.'s car in the northbound lane of traffic - the correct lane of traffic for S.S. A witness drove up almost immediately thereafter and saw EAGLEMAN in the driver's seat of the Durango.
Responding medical and law enforcement saw that Z.Z. was still alive, but he could not breathe well. He died shortly thereafter. S.S. had two other passengers in her car, both of whom died on scene. An ambulance transported S.S. to the hospital where she died. EAGLEMAN suffered minor injuries and was released from the hospital. Soon after the crash, at 6:52 p.m. that evening, his blood alcohol content was .257. He also tested positive for opiates and THC.
EAGLEMAN faces possible penalties of life in prison, a $250,000 fine and 5 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Montana Highway Patrol, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.