Te'Ca Clifford, 2003-2016. Photo: Mothers Against
Pine Ridge man found guilty
Convicted of 2nd degree murder
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Today Correspondent
RAPID CITY –– As law enforcement on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation continues to shift, destabilize, and remain underfunded and understaffed, homicide rates continue to rise.
What began as a night of underage drinking with liquor allegedly purchased from a bootlegger in a plastic water bottle in east Pine Ridge, ended with one girl shot and bleeding on HWY 18, as four teenagers made their way to a backroad home in North Ridge at approximately 3:45 a.m.
According to statements made in court by the three teenagers who accompanied Te’Ca Clifford that evening, the foursome had met at Rijuana O’Rourke’s, now 15, home located north of Pine Ridge on a back road. The teens “snuck out” around midnight to go to the bootleggers to purchase a plastic water bottle full of Lord Calvert whiskey.
A few hours later, at approximately 3:00 a.m., the four made their way back to the same bootlegger’s home near the Oglala Sioux Tribe Food Distribution Program warehouse in Pine Ridge village. After purchasing another plastic bottle of whiskey, the four were making their way back to the home in North Ridge area.
It was during this return trip, at approximately 3:45 a.m., the foursome had begun crossing into the Community Action Program (CAP) office’s parking lot and noticing a figure coming from a road located across HWY 18, a main street running east-west through Pine Ridge. “He kind of came out of nowhere,” testified O’Rourke.
During this early morning walk, the two teen boys, Donovan Youngman and Anthony Red Cloud, were “skipping rocks,” according to O’Rourke.
Mothers Against METH Alliance on Facebook: In Memory of Te'Ca Clifford
The three teens testified in court that they recognized the figure across HWY 18 as James “Jimmy” Dowty, based on previous encounters of seeing him “around town” and he was known to carry a back pack, according to the testimony of the threesome.
The two teen boys admitted to throwing rocks towards Dowty that night, but could not confirm if the rocks had hit him, as it was dark in the area in which Dowty was walking.
As the teens began to cross HWY 18 going north, after the rocks had been thrown, the three witnesses testified that as Dowty was walking west, had turned once with a “black gun” pointed in their direction, faced forward and turned in their direction once again.
“That’s whenever he shot,” testified Youngman, now 19. “We seen the flame,” he described of seeing the gun fire.
According to Youngman, the phone he was carrying was not in service.
“I tried to call 911, but it called to, I think Rushville or Gordon,” he said.
It was Youngman who immediately took action to help his friend. “I took off my shirt and put pressure on it,” he testified.
He then began to flag down drivers on HWY 18 for help or to use their phone to dial 911.
“We tried to flag down cars, but no cars would stop,” said Youngman on the stand. Dowty “walked away like nothing had happened” following the shooting, according the 19 year-old.
Finally, a driver had stopped. It was during this time that Anthony Red Cloud, now 17, had ran in the direction that Dowty had been walking in order to “see if he went to his uncle’s or his dad’s house,” Red Cloud testified in court on May 2.
It was during the return trip to the scene of the shooting that Red Cloud admitted to hiding the black bag the teens had carried in order to conceal their activities that night. The black back contained over-the-counter cough medicine, according to statements made in court.
After several attempts to stop passing motorists, Trina Andrews and her sister Eula Yellow Boy had stopped for the teens. The pair had gone out for a late night drive to go to a local gas station, Big Bat’s, around 3 a.m.
“I seen a young man approach us. He had no shirt on,” testified Andrews.
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Pine Ridge man found guilty
(Contact NSNT Correspondent Richie Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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