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Oct-06-2008 16:00printcomments

Federal Prosecutors in Oregon Aggressively Pursue Crimes in Indian Country

Federal prosecutors say they are going after a number of serious cases in Oregon's Native American communities.

handcuffs
Image courtesy: kumah.org

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Charges have been filed in seven different criminal cases over the past three weeks in the District of Oregon involving crimes on Native American reservations, announced United States Attorney Karin J. Immergut. The charges include first degree murder, second degree murder, felony assault, domestic assault by a habitual offender, assault with a dangerous weapon and theft from a casino.

"These seven cases demonstrate that the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon continues to be committed to actively prosecuting crimes in Indian Country," said U.S. Attorney Immergut.

Specifically, the criminal cases are:

First Degree Murder - Warm Springs Indian Reservation

On October 1st, 2008, 27-year old Jolena Jean Warner made her initial appearance on a criminal complaint charging her with murder in the first degree for the premeditated killing of Lucinda Stwyer. The maximum punishment is life imprisonment. The criminal complaint alleges that the defendant stabbed and killed the victim and then burned her body. The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Warm Springs Tribal Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Kerin and Pamala Holsinger.

Second Degree Murder - Warm Springs Indian Reservation

On September 10th, 2008, 26-year old Windy N. Harvey was indicted for murder in the second degree; using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and tampering and attempting to tamper with a witness. The maximum punishment is life imprisonment. The alleged murder took place on August 15th, 2008, on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Warm Springs Tribal Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Kerin and Scott Asphaug.

Felony Assault and Weapon Charges- Warm Springs Indian Reservation

On October 1st, 2008, 26-year old Oscar Castillo Zapien of Warm Springs, Oregon, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm; assault resulting in serious bodily injury; use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. According to the charges, on Sept. 5, 2008, Zapien fired seven shots at a van occupied by seven people as the van was backing away from Zapien's residence on the Warm Springs Reservation. One of the shots struck the driver of the van, Delino John Thomas Sr., a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, in the neck. The van managed to escape with Thomas being the only person hit by the gunfire. Law enforcement responded to Zapien's residence and recovered a Glock Model 22.40-caliber semi-automatic pistol and seven rounds of live ammunition. Law enforcement also recovered seven shell casings from the driveway of the residence. Zapien had previously been convicted of a felony offense in September 2007. The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Warm Springs Tribal Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred W. Slaughter.

Habitual Offender/Domestic Violence - Umatilla Indian Reservation

On October 2nd, 2008, 46-year old Paul Richard Thickstun was indicted for domestic assault by a habitual offender. This is the first such prosecution in the District of Oregon. It is a felony for a person to commit a domestic assault when the person has at least two prior convictions in federal, state or Indian Tribal court for, among other crimes, assault, sexual abuse or serious violent felony against a spouse or intimate partner. As charged, the maximum punishment is five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000 and three years of supervised release. The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Umatilla Tribal Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin.

Domestic Violence - Assault With a Dangerous Weapon - Warm Springs Indian Reservation

On October 2nd, 2008, 23-year old Sonny Noah Berry was indicted for assault with a dangerous weapon with the intent to do bodily harm. The maximum punishment is 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release. The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Warm Springs Tribal Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin. Domestic Violence - Assault with a Dangerous Weapon - Umatilla Indian Reservation On October 2nd, 2008, 21-year old Joseph Higheagle Jr. was indicted for assault with a dangerous weapon with the intent to do bodily harm. The maximum punishment is 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release. The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Umatilla Tribal Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin.

Theft from the Wildhorse Resort and Casino - Umatilla Indian Reservation

On September 25th, 2008, 28-year old Lucas Chad Warneka of Pendleton, Oregon, was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury for stealing $5,290 from the Wildhorse Resort & Casino. The casino, located on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, is a gaming establishment operated and licensed by the Confederate Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation pursuant to an ordinance and resolution approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission. This case was investigated by the Confederate Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Police Department and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kemp L. Strickland.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice




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