GREAT FALLS – A Browning man on Monday admitted to strangling a woman during an argument in a vehicle on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in September 2018, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
Elijah Blaine Eagleman, 24, pleaded guilty to strangulation during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris.
Eagleman faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. He is detained.
Prosecutors said evidence would show that on Sept. 8, 2018, Eagleman hit and strangled the victim near Browning, on the Blackfeet Reservation. The victim lost consciousness after Eagleman choked her with his left forearm and does not recall being hit in the face by Eagleman. The victim said in a statement that the two of them had been arguing.
A law enforcement officer responded after a woman reported to law enforcement that she had stopped at a domestic assault at the intersection of U.S. Highways 2 and 89, at the Y, near Browning. She said a man was on top of a female, who appeared to be trying to wave her down. The officer approached the vehicle and saw that the victim, who was the driver, had fresh bruises on her face and was crying. The officer had the victim get out and walk to the back of the vehicle, where she said Eagleman had hit her but that she was “okay now.” The victim was treated at the Indian Health Service and released the next morning.
In an interview with the case agent, the victim said Eagleman had wrapped his forearm around her neck and pulled her backward into his seat, choking her. The agent observed injuries to the victim’s face and neck as being consistent with a strangulation assault.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paulette Stewart prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Blackfeet Tribal Police.