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(SD)-15 Year Sentence In Pine Ridge Homicide Case

By: John Axtell Posted at: 09/07/2017 06:44 PM
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A Pine Ridge Reservation man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for stabbing to death another man during a fight on the reservation last year. 

       34-year-old Leon "Gogg" Between Lodges of Wanblee had faced up to life in prison after pleading guilty to 2nd degree murder for killing 22-year-old Leonard Sitting Up in May 2016 and to assault with a dangerous weapon for stabbing and injuring another man during the altercation. That man committed suicide in June with his family blaming it on "survivor's guilt" from the attack.

      As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors asked for concurrent 10 year sentences on both counts that would run at the same time. Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Poppen said that was because the stabbing culminated a series of incidents that began in the early morning and rebuilt about 10:00 that night, with "instigation" on the Sitting Up side.

       Between Lodges read from a prepared statement and apologized for his crimes, saying he acted in his family's defense. Sobbing, he said "I don't expect you will accept my apology, but I'm sorry. We, as men, should have handled it differently, by talking or something."

    Federal District Court Judge Jeffrey Viken decried the family disputes that led to the killing as part of an "endless" cycle of violence and gave Between Lodges, also known as Leon Milk, a slightly longer sentence of 15 years for the murder charge and 10 for the assault, still concurrent.

    Viken also ordered Between Lodges to spend 5 years on supervised release on the murder count and 3 years on the assault charge as well as to pay $2,000 in restitution for funeral-related expenses.


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