Lead Defendant In Reservation Murder Case Sentenced To 35 Years
Susan Chippewa, who repeatedly stabbed an Ethete man last year on the Wind River Indian Reservation, will spend 35 years in federal prison, U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl said Tuesday.
"This murder was a heinous and senseless act," Skavdahl told Chippewa during her sentencing hearing.
Jared Dean Little Whiteman didn't die quickly from a car crash or some other kind of accident, he said.
Instead, he was tied to a bed in a trailer during an alcohol-fueled and pointless interrogation about drugs and money on June 3, 2014, Skavdahl said.
Another defendant, James Leo Whiteplume, gave her a knife and dared her to kill him. She stabbed him more than 40 times, and cut his throat.
"At one point, he was begging for someone to end his life to end the pain," he said.
"You might have accepted responsibility," Skavdahl said. "But you have more responsibility to accept."
Chippewa pleaded guilty in April to first degree murder and aid and abet. As part of the plea deal, a second count of first degree felony murder was dismissed at the sentencing. If her case had gone to trial and she was convicted, she would have been sentenced to life imprisonment.
The sentencing brought some closure to the 14-month tragedy that began when Garrett Revere Jr., and Will Wallowingbull picked up 21-year-old Little Whiteman from his grandmother’s house. They took him to a trailer, attacked him, tied him to a bed and interrogated him. That's when Whiteplume handed her the knife. Co-defendant Byron Spoonhunter also stabbed him.
Two weeks later, Little Whiteman's grandmother reported she had not heard from her grandson for nearly two weeks, according to court records.
Before Skavdahl handed down the sentence, a family friend read a letter to the court from Little Whiteman's grandmother.
"I am both physically and emotionally exhausted," she wrote. I imagine the scrams of Jared being tortured. He did not deserve to die the way he did."
She asked Skavdahl to give Chippewa the most severe sentence, which included $6,820 in restitution to help the Little Whiteman family rebuild their lives.
However, Chippewa's public defender Daniel Blythe asked Skavdahl to sentence her to only 21 years, saying she was the defendant who came forward and told investigators where to find Little Whiteman's body and told them about the other defendants.
Chippewa herself tearfully apologized to Little Whiteman's family. "I want to tell the family I'm sorry."
The defendants, like Little Whiteman, are members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe.
On Aug. 13, Skavdahl sentenced Whiteplume to 39 years imprisonment, and on Tuesday he sentenced Spoonhunter to 26 years imprisonment. Both pleaded guilty to felony first degree murder, which is defined as a murder committed during the commission of another crime.
Three other defendants were sentenced each to five years imprisonment to be followed by three years of probation for being accessories after the fact to the murder. They are Revere, Wallowingbull, and Chrissy Big Eagle.
In his final words to Chippewa before the terms of her sentence and probation 35 years from now, Skavdahl told her that she will have the opportunity to see her children when she is in prison.
But Little Whiteman will never have children and his family will never be able to see them, he said.