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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


BILLINGS – After a two-day trial, a jury convicted a Pryor man of assaulting a man, causing facial injuries, on the Crow Reservation, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

The jury found Joseph Nathan Smells, 34, guilty of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Smells faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided over the trial and set sentencing for March 18, 2020. Smells is being detained pending sentencing.  

The prosecution presented evidence that Smells assaulted the victim by head-butting and punching him on February 13, 2019 in Pryor. The attack caused multiple facial injuries that required surgery.

The assault occurred as the victim, along with two others, returned to Pryor after attending a basketball game in Billings. While driving to drop off a passenger, the group passed the victim’s house. The driver noticed that the door had been kicked in and stopped to investigate. The driver walked toward the house and saw Smells, just inside the house, and another man and told them both to leave. Smells and the driver argued, and as the driver tried to call police, Smells walked to the vehicle, where the victim was a passenger. Smells spoke briefly to the victim then jerked open the vehicle door and began assaulting the victim. After the fight, Smells ran away.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanne Torske prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Violent Crime
CLAIR JOHNSON HOWARD Public Information Officer (406) 247-4623
Updated November 13, 2019