Defendants Plead Guilty in Wind River Indian Reservation Kidnappings
Four residents of the Wind River Indian Reservation could face up to life imprisonment after they pleaded guilty to kidnapping crimes in U.S. District Court in Casper on Wednesday, according to court records.
Ashley Rose Yellowbear, Samuel Harold Friday, Kristen Jade Antelope and Rusty Tso Tabaho, Sr., each pleaded guilty to kidnapping and aiding and abetting during separate hearings before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl.
Yellowbear and Friday were also charged with assault with a dangerous weapon with the intent to do bodily harm.
As a condition of their guilty pleas to the kidnapping charge, the assault charges will be dismissed at their sentencing hearings, according to the minutes of the change-of-plea hearings.
Skavdahl set their sentencings for mid-October.
They remain in custody.
Conviction of kidnapping and aiding and abetting is up to life in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, five years of probation, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, according to federal sentencing guidelines. The court also may order restitution.
According to the indictment handed up by the grand jury on March 18, the defendants kidnapped a woman and a man for the purpose of assault and intimidating them to prevent reporting these acts.
Yellowbear, Friday, Antelope and Tabaho kknowingly aided and abetted each other in the crime. The indictment further alleges that Yellowbear and Friday each assaulted one of the victims with a tire iron.
U.S. Attorney Mark Klaassen said in a prepared statement in March that violent crime is a top priority for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indian Country and across Wyoming. "These efforts require partnerships at every level to effectively investigate and prosecute these crimes.”
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Wind River Police Department.
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