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Press Release

McLaughlin Woman Sentenced for Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury

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

United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announced that a McLaughlin, South Dakota, woman convicted of Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury was sentenced on July 11, 2016, by U.S. District Judge Charles B. Kornmann.

Makayla Kills In Water, a/k/a Makayla Iron Cloud, age 22, was sentenced to 120 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

Kills In Water was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 15, 2014.  She pled guilty on April 25, 2016.

The conviction stemmed from an incident on September 20, 2014, when Kills In Water’s two-year old stepdaughter was brought to the Mobridge Regional Hospital by ambulance.  The young victim was drifting in and out of consciousness and was not breathing on her own. Kills In Water was caring for the young victim at the time the injuries were sustained.

Kills In Water initially informed hospital staff and law enforcement that she was under an extreme amount of stress and had been for the past several days.  After dropping her husband off at work, Kills In Water drove to their residence with the children, including the victim.  The children were growing restless and fussing, which further agitated Kills In Water.

When she arrived at the residence, Kills In Water went to the door and turned on the light.  When she turned around, she claimed to have seen the victim fall out of the vehicle and began crying, so Kills In Water went and helped her into the house.  Once inside the residence, the victim continued to cry.  The victim became non-responsive and began struggling with her breathing so Kills In Water called 911 to dispatch an ambulance.  Paramedics arrived and found the victim was in medical distress and transported her immediately to the Mobridge Regional Hospital.  Upon arriving at the Hospital, it was determined that the victim was in need of a higher level of medical care and she was airlifted to the Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Upon arrival in Sioux Falls, the medical staff was apprised of Kills In Water’s initial version of how the injury was sustained, namely that the victim had fallen out of a vehicle which led to her current injuries and medical condition.  However, the victim’s treating physician stated that the injuries sustained were inconsistent with a simple fall from a vehicle. It was noted that the victim had bilateral hemorrhages of the retina and both retinas were also detached.  The treating physician also advised this type of injury is almost 100% specific to “shaken baby” injuries.  The force of the act had to be significant enough to cause the victim’s brain to shift, resulting in the brain tissue shearing and/or tearing, thus causing extensive bleeding.  A “brain bolt” was placed in the victim’s skull to relieve the pressure in her head.  Kills In Water ultimately admitted to violently shaking the victim against a wall, causing the injuries.  To date the victim remains partially paralyzed on the left side of her body, which necessitates the use of a wheel chair, with severe visual and speech deficits.  It is unknown if the victim will ever fully recover from the injuries she sustained.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Standing Rock Agency.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy R. Morley prosecuted the case.

Kills In Water was immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Updated July 15, 2016

Violent Crime