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Press Release

Ute Tribal Member Pleads Guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter on Uintah and Ouray Tribal Lands

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

SALT LAKE CITY – Trent Sowsonicut, age 28, of Ft. Duchesne, Utah, pleaded guilty to  voluntary manslaughter Monday afternoon in federal court in Salt Lake City.  As a part of the plea agreement, Sowsonicut admitted that he killed L.M., an enrolled member of the Ute Indian Tribe, during a quarrel within the boundaries of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.


Sowsonicut, who is also a tribal member, admitted that on Aug. 13, 2016, he went to L.M.’s residence to confront L.M.  He said he brought a loaded shotgun into the residence and shot L.M. in the leg during a quarrel in L.M.’s bedroom.  L.M. died as a result of the gunshot. Sowsonicut admitted he acted recklessly and with extreme disregard for human life when he brought the loaded shotgun into L.M,’s bedroom.


First responders arrived at the victim’s residence in Gusher, Utah, about 1:07 a.m. on Aug. 13, 2016, after receiving a 911 call saying that L.M. was a victim of a shooting at the residence.  First responders attempted to stabilize the victim and eventually took him to the hospital. Acting on information provided during the investigation, FBI agents and Uintah County Search and Rescue officers found the loaded shotgun in the river beneath the Randlett Bridge.   


A federal grand jury indicted Sowsonicut in January 2017 on charges of second degree murder and use and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence.  He entered his guilty plea to a Felony Information filed Friday charging him with voluntary manslaughter.


The plea agreement includes a stipulated sentence of 78 months in federal prison, to be followed by 36 months of supervised release.  The sentence is subject to the approval of the court.  U.S. District Judge David Sam set sentencing in the case for March 15, 2018, at 2:30 p.m.


Agents and officers with the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Ute tribal police participated in the investigation of the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen L. Nelson and Michael J. Thorpe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office are prosecuting the case.

Updated January 9, 2018

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime