Four Wyoming residents kidnapped two people before two of the kidnappers assaulted a victim with a tire iron, prosecutors alleged this month in federal court following a grand jury’s indictment.
The indictment charges Ashley R. Yellowbear, 27, Samuel H. Friday, 37, both of the Wind River Indian Reservation, with aiding and abetting kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon. Kristen J. Antelope, 26, and Rusty T. Tabaho Sr., 27, also of the Wind River Reservation, both face charges of aiding and abetting kidnapping.
The indictment, which a grand jury returned on March 16, alleges that the four defendants committed the attack against a woman and a man on New Year’s Day on the reservation. The alleged victims’ names are redacted in publicly available court documents.
Prosecutors alleged in a press release Wednesday afternoon that the kidnapping was designed to assault one of the victims and to intimidate them from reporting the attack.
“Even in times of crisis, we must continue to enforce the law and protect our communities. Violent crime is a top priority for my office and we are working to address violence in Indian country and across Wyoming,” said U.S. Attorney Mark A. Klaassen, who oversees Wyoming’s federal prosecutors, in the press release. “These efforts require partnerships at every level to effectively investigate and prosecute these crimes.”
Although tribal courts operate on the Wind River Reservation, aggravated felony cases alleged to have occurred on the reservation are charged in United States federal courts.
The defendants made their initial appearances before Judge Scott Skavdahl on Wednesday morning by video, the result of a policy that attempts to limit potential transmission of the novel coronavirus in federal courthouses.
Skavdahl during the morning hearing ordered Yellowbear, Friday, Antelope and Tabaho be held in advance of their arraignments, which are scheduled to be held Monday by video.
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