News and Press Releases

TRIBAL MEMBER PLEADS GUILTY TO VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER IN DEATH OF INFANT SON
Admits He Threw Child Causing Fatal Head Injury

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2007

BARTHOLOMEW JEFFERSON, 30, an enrolled member of the Lummi Indian Nation, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Voluntary Manslaughter. JEFFERSON admits he killed his five-month-old son when he threw the child into the hard armrest of a couch. Under the terms of the plea agreement, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez must sentence JEFFERSON to eight to ten years in prison or either side can withdraw from the plea agreement. JEFFERSON is scheduled for sentencing on October 19, 2007.

According to the plea agreement, on November 20, 2006, JEFFERSON was caring for his 11-month-old and five-month-old children. JEFFERSON had worked the night shift the night before. JEFFERSON became agitated and frustrated when the five-month-old child would not stop crying, and threw the child with substantial force into the armrest of the couch. The child suffered swelling and bleeding of the brain. The child was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Nine days later the infant died from the head trauma.

The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office because under federal law, the federal government generally has exclusive felony jurisdiction over Indians who commit "major crimes" such as manslaughter on an Indian reservation. The underlying offense in this case occurred on tribal trust lands within the Lummi Indian reservation.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Lummi Tribal Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys J. Tate London and Jill Otake.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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