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Press Release

Fort Kipp woman admits manslaughter charge in vehicle death

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

GREAT FALLS — A Fort Kipp woman today admitted to a manslaughter charge for striking and killing a man with her vehicle on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

JoAnna Sayetsitty, 35, pleaded guilty to a superseding information charging her with involuntary manslaughter. Sayetsitty faces a maximum of eight years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Johnston presided. Sentencing will be set sometime later this fall before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris. The court will determine a sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The government alleged in court documents that on Aug. 25, 2019, law enforcement responded to a call of a deceased individual who had been found in a wheat field south of Fort Kipp, on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The individual, identified as John Doe, was eventually identified after law enforcement posted a description of his clothing on social media. Officers interviewed Sayetsitty, who had been in a relationship with John Doe, at her residence. Officers discovered front-end damage to Sayetsitty’s Suburban SUV and found a piece of material matching John Doe’s clothing hanging from the vehicle.

The government further alleged that Sayetsitty told officers that on the evening she last saw John Doe, they had been driving around the area, drinking alcohol and listening to music. The two began arguing, John Doe got out of the car and Sayetsitty drove away from where he was standing in the field. Sayetsitty told officers multiple times that she was the only driver of the vehicle. Officers impounded the vehicle and, pursuant to a search warrant, found evidence from the undercarriage that matched John Doe’s DNA. An autopsy determined that John Doe died of blunt force injuries typical of a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle. Sayetsitty admitted in court to driving the vehicle in a reckless manner, and striking John Doe, causing his death.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy A. Johnson is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice, and the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office.




Clair Johnson Howard
Public Affairs Officer

Updated August 1, 2022

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 22-182