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Press Release

Pine Ridge Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for First Degree Murder of Child

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

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Pine Ridge, South Dakota, man convicted of First Degree Murder and Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury was sentenced on August 21, 2020, by Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Judge.

Zachariah Michael Poor Bear, age 26, was sentenced to life in federal prison and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund as to the First Degree Murder charge.  Poor Bear was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, to be served concurrently to the murder charge, and was ordered to pay another $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund for the Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury charge.

The conviction stemmed from Poor Bear killing a 19 month-old baby by inflicting blunt force trauma to her head and abdomen in May 2015 at Pine Ridge.  Poor Bear was found guilty at trial.    

“The murder of a child is incomprehensible,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons.  “We mourn the loss of this precious little girl and pray that the justice represented by this life sentence will bring some measure of rest to her family.”

“This crime was gut-wrenching and there is no question the sentencing is just,” said FBI Minneapolis Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Bob Perry. “The FBI is responsible for investigating the most serious crimes in Indian Country and along with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively pursue these cases. The FBI is committed to protecting all of the tribal communities we serve, helping victims, and ensuring that justice is met for violent offenders.”

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah B. Collins and Eric Kelderman prosecuted the case.

Poor Bear was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Updated August 27, 2020

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime