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Press Release

Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Sentences for Assault with a Dangerous Weapon and Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury

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

United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announces that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the convictions and sentences of Wesley Running Shield and Michael Alford.  The two were convicted by a federal jury in February 2015 of assault with a dangerous weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.  The two were each sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment.

The convictions related to the two men of assaulting a victim in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, in June 2014.  They were separately indicted for assaulting two additional victims’ days later, also in Pine Ridge.  Rather than proceed to a second jury trial, the government dismissed the second indictment but introduced evidence of the additional assaults in seeking a higher sentence. 

On appeal, the two men challenged the district court’s consideration of the dismissed assaults when imposing the sentences.  The court of appeals affirmed in a published opinion today, holding that sentencing courts have broad discretion to consider the evidence on the separate assault when sentencing the two men.  It also did not violate their due process rights under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution because the sentences fell within the statutory maximum terms, and a district court is entitled to determine sentences based on judge-found facts and uncharged conduct.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Collins prosecuted the case at trial, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Koliner handled the appeal for the government.  The case was investigated by the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

Updated August 9, 2016

Indian Country Law and Justice