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Press Release

Jess James Rutherford, Jr. Sentenced In U.S. District Court

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

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on October 22, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen, JESS JAMES RUTHERFORD, JR., a 28-year-old resident of Heart Butte and an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe, was sentenced to a term of:

  • ison: 24 months
  • ecial Assessment: $100
  • pervised Release: 3 years

RUTHERFORD was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On April 23, 2013, the victim was interviewed about the assault by RUTHERFORD. The victim and RUTHERFORD had dated for eight months. On the night in question, the victim stated that RUTHERFORD was drinking with his friends, and the friends left. The victim explained that she was also drinking and she lived in the house with RUTHERFORD at that time. Despite living together, RUTHERFORD locked the victim outside. The victim wanted back inside to get her bag. RUTHERFORD told her that he burned her bag but eventually let her inside.

The beating then ensued. RUTHERFORD threw the victim to the ground, stomped on her, and punched her repeatedly. Specifically, RUTHERFORD stomped on the victim's neck, back, and legs. He was hitting her with a "backhand" at first, but then, when she was on her belly, he started stomping on her, and eventually stomped on her chest. Pictures showed deep bruising on her chest.

The victim explained that RUTHERFORD was calling her names while he was hitting her. Her underwear were also torn. She stated that RUTHERFORD was trying to pull her pants down, and he ripped her underwear off. He was also dragging her around by the hair.

The victim stated that she was not knocked unconscious, and RUTHERFORD, when kicking her, was wearing regular tennis shoes. The victim did not know why RUTHERFORD stopped.

The beating lasted for approximately a half hour, beginning at 2:30 a.m. After the beating, the victim waited for RUTHERFORD to fall asleep so that she could leave. She then ran to a neighbor.

After arriving at the neighbor's house, the victim went to the hospital. The attending physician stated that the victim had two broken ribs on her left side. The victim also had a bilateral and impacted nasal fracture. The victim described her pain as a ten out of ten, with ten being the worst. The victim described in an interview two days after the assault that her fingers and mouth were still numb.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that he will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, he does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Updated January 14, 2015