Activity in the United States Attorney's Office
Chief United States District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl sentenced codefendants Ashley Rose Yellowbear, 28, Kristen Jade Antelope, 27, Rusty Tso Tabaho, 28, and Samuel Harold Friday, 38, all of the Wind River Reservation or Riverton, Wyoming, on October 15, 2020 for kidnapping and aiding and abetting.
“The violence in this case is disturbing and unacceptable,” said US Attorney Mark Klaassen. “The victims were bound at the wrists, beaten, threatened, and held captive for hours at the hands of the defendants. This prosecution makes clear that such actions will not be tolerated, and affirms our commitment to reduce violent crime in Indian County and across Wyoming.”
Each codefendant’s sentence depended upon his or her role in the offense. Yellowbear was sentenced to 135 months of imprisonment, Antelope was sentenced to 124 months of imprisonment, Tabaho was sentenced to 114 months of imprisonment and Friday was sentenced to 160 months of imprisonment. All codefendants’ prison sentences will be followed by five years of supervised release. All codefendants were ordered to pay restitution jointly and severally in the amount of $4,408.69 with the possibility of additional restitution being added on or before January 9, 2021. Each codefendant must pay a $100.00 special assessment.
"The FBI, along with the Wind River Police Department, worked diligently to investigate and gather evidence in this case," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. "The recent sentencing of Ashley Yellowbear, Kristen Antelope, Rusty Tabaho and Sam Friday demonstrates the commitment and dedication to our citizens and communities. The FBI, our law enforcement partners, and prosecutors work together every day to find justice for the victims of violent crime on our nation’s Indian reservations.”
These sentences were in connection with an incident in which the codefendants confined two victims in Yellowbear’s Ford Expedition on January 1, 2020, by cuffing their wrists using handcuffs and plastic zip-ties and activating child locks on the Expedition’s doors and windows. The victims were held for several hours, during which time they were repeatedly assaulted with fists, were struck in the head with a tire iron, strangled and kicked. The victims were eventually taken out of Yellowbear’s Expedition, thrown to the ground, kicked and left at an abandoned house in the St. Stephens area. One victim was able to run for help but could not direct law enforcement to where the second victim had been left unconscious. The second victim regained consciousness and crawled into the abandoned house in an attempt to find shelter, as temperatures were at or near freezing at the time The motive for the kidnapping and assaults was a series of text messages that angered Yellowbear. All codefendants were arrested on the Wind River Reservation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case with assistance from the Bureau of Indian Affairs