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Press Release

St. Michael, ND, Woman Sentenced to Three Years in Federal Prison for Accessory After the Fact, False Statements and Retaliation Against a Witness

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

FARGO – United States Attorney Mac Schneider, District of North Dakota, announced that on January 29, 2024, Skyla Kay Cavanaugh, age 23 of St. Michael, ND, appeared before Chief Judge Peter D. Welte, U.S. District Court, Fargo, ND, and was sentenced to three years in federal prison, three years supervised release and $300.00 in special assessments for one count of Accessory After the Fact, one count of False Statements, and one count of Retaliation Against a Witness. The federal prison term will run consecutive to an unrelated state sentence she has yet to complete. Cavanaugh pleaded guilty to the offenses on October 12, 2023.

As charged by the United States Attorney’s Office, Cavanaugh pleaded guilty to being an Accessory After the Fact in relation to the May 22, 2022, non-fatal shooting of a man in St. Michael, and for giving False Statements in the ensuing investigation. Cavanaugh also pleaded guilty to Retaliation Against a Witness for confronting and striking a witness to the May 22 shooting several months later.

For committing the May 22, 2022, shooting, 21-year-old Nathaniel Azure was convicted in December 2023, after a 7-day jury trial of two crimes for Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, Discharge of a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence. Azure was also convicted at trial for his role in a non-fatal shooting in Fort Totten, ND, on January 6, 2021, and for assaulting another person while brandishing a firearm in St. Michael, ND, on May 21, 2022. Sentencing of Azure is scheduled for April 16, 2024.

Michael Al-Jerome Denne, the 25-year-old brother of Azure, previously pleaded guilty to his participation in the January 6, 2021, shooting and has been sentenced. Dantae Jerome Whitetail, aged 23, Minnewaukan, ND, previously pleaded guilty to his participation in the May 21, 2022, brandishing assault, and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 6, 2024.

“This result is reflective of the office’s commitment to public safety in Indian country,” Schneider said. “Retaliation against people who witness crimes and tell the truth to law enforcement will not be tolerated. This sentence will serve as a strong deterrent to anyone who thinks they can use violence to evade justice.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Benson County Sheriff’s Office, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob T. Rodenbiker and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemestrud Puhl, District of North Dakota.



Terry W. Van Horn  701-297-7400

Updated January 30, 2024