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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 18, 2019

Strangulation murder of woman sends Box Elder man to prison for more than 21 years

GREAT FALLS—A Box Elder man who admitted strangling a woman to death on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation was sentenced this week to 21 years and four months in prison followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Gavin Tyrone Sutherland, 35, pleaded guilty in May to second degree murder.

U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided at the Oct. 17 hearing. Judge Morris also ordered Sutherland to pay $3,500 restitution.

“Violence against Native American women is all too common in our country and must stop. Those who harm these wives, mothers, sisters and daughters will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” U.S. Attorney Alme said.

The prosecution said in court records that Sutherland strangled the victim to death on July 7, 2018 at the victim’s home on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation. Late in the evening on July 6, Sutherland arrived at the victim’s home. Two other adults and the victim’s two-year-old child were present in the residence. Sometime after midnight, the victim became upset over some money she thought had been stolen from her and she called Sutherland into her bedroom. A few minutes later, the two other adults heard the victim scream and other noises and thought that Sutherland was trying to rob her. The two adults got scared and ran to a neighbor’s house. The victim’s body was found shortly after the murder by the victim’s 12-year-old son, who arrived at the house after being away.

Sutherland told investigators he intentionally killed the victim by choking her and that he had fled the scene and the state after the murder.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Cobell prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI and Rocky Boy’s Criminal Investigations.

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Topic(s): 
Indian Country Law and Justice
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Contact: 
Clair Johnson Howard Public Information Officer 406-247-4623
Updated October 18, 2019