A panorama of Poplar, Montana, on the Fort Peck Reservation. Photo: Royalbroil
Law | National

Fort Peck Reservation defendants given lengthy sentences for crimes against children

Sentences were handed down in two cases involving crimes against children on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana.

John William Lieba II, 22, was sentenced to 500 months, or 41.6 years, in prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl in February 2016. He was convicted by a jury in April of kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

Janelle Red Dog, 43, was sentenced to 240 months, or 20 years, in prison for the death of a 13-month-old girl in April 2016. She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in May.

Federal prosecutors had been seeking a life sentence for Lieba. Judge Brian Morris filed an explanation for his judgment but the document is not available to the public at this point.

Prosecutors were seeking 250 months for Red Dog so the sentence, which was also issued by Morris, wasn't too much of a downward departure. But again, the judge's explanation is not accessible via the court's online record system.

News reports did not disclose any comments Morris may have made during the sentencing hearings, both of which took place on Wednesday. But reports indicated Lieba's hearing was particularly emotional due to the age of the victim.

In Red Dog's case, The Great Falls Tribune said the deceased girl's mother made a surprise decision to speak after Morris handed down the sentence. "How would you feel if someone did that to you? Took your child?" Eva Hernandez told the defendant, according to the paper.

Leaders of the Fort Peck Tribes tied both crimes to a rise in methamphetamine abuse on the reservation. In a sentencing memorandum, Lieba's attorney said his client suffers from "serious substance abuse and mental health issues that need to be addressed." Red Dog admitted she was smoking methamphetamine when she struck her young victim and failed to seek adequate medical care.

Lieba is planning an appeal of his conviction, The Tribune reported.

Read More on the Story:
Poplar woman gets 20 years for toddler's murder (The Great Falls Tribune 7/26)
Poplar woman sentenced to prison for killing baby, dumping body (MTN News 7/26)
Lieba sentenced for kidnapping and raping a 4-year old girl (MTN News 7/26)
Horrific crimes on Montana Indian reservation draw prison sentences (AP 7/26)
Lieba spared life sentence, for kidnap, rape of 4-year-old Wolf Point girl (The Great Falls Tribune 7/26)
Lieba to appeal federal conviction (The Great Falls Tribune 7/26)

Related Stories:
Fort Peck Reservation man due for sentencing in assault of 4-year-old girl (July 26, 2017)
Fort Peck woman faces life sentence for death of 13-month-old girl (May 1, 2017)
Fort Peck Tribes finally gain access to federal criminal databases (April 19, 2017)
Montana woman charged for murder of one-year-old Fort Peck girl (September 15, 2016)
Man charged with murdering girlfriend on Fort Peck Reservation (June 29, 2016)
Federal charges filed in kidnapping of girl on Fort Peck Reservation (June 24, 2016)
Fort Peck Tribes in 'crisis mode' over drugs and sex trafficking (May 18, 2016)
Leader of Fort Peck Tribes blames baby's death on drug abuse (April 27, 2016)
Fort Peck Tribes indict woman in connection with baby girl's death (April 22, 2016)
Suspect in custody for death of baby girl on Fort Peck Reservation (April 21, 2016)
Fort Peck Tribes charge man accused of abducting four-year-old girl (March 2, 2016)
Girl found safe after reported abduction on Fort Peck Reservation (February 29, 2016)