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Press Release

Spirit Lake Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury of a Child

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

Fargo – Today in U.S. District Court, Chief Judge Peter D. Welte sentenced Jonathan James Hill, age 23, to 10 years in federal prison for the offense of Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury.  Defendant Hill is an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe and the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe. Upon completion of his prison sentence, Hill will be placed on five years of supervised release with a number of conditions including that he have no contact with children under the age of 18 without express permission of his supervising agent.  Hill will also be required to pay restitution.

The investigation in this case began on January 1, 2019, when emergency medical technicians responded to a residence in Fort Totten, ND, within the boundaries of the Spirit Lake Reservation, for a report of an unresponsive baby. Medical providers described the 20-month-old baby as “noticeably bruised to face & entire body.” The baby was diagnosed with multiple acute and chronic injuries to the brain and body. Medical providers believed the injuries to be “non-accidental” and were later determined to be consistent with abusive head trauma and child physical abuse. The baby’s injuries required air transport for medical treatment, surgical intervention, and months-long hospitalization.

“The Department of Justice has a special trust responsibility for Native American land and people,” said United States Attorney Drew Wrigley, “and we view that trust as particularly sacred when we are called upon to seek justice on behalf of children.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lori H. Conroy.


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Terry W. Van Horn, (701) 297-7458

Updated December 16, 2019