Federal judge acquits Pine Ridge man formerly found guilty of lying about brutal assault

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A federal judge has acquitted a Pine Ridge man previously found guilty of lying to law enforcement about a brutal assault that left a Lakota woman with a severe brain injury.

Weldon Two Bulls was convicted by a jury for making a false statement after he purportedly told a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agent that he was too drunk to remember what happened to Sheena Between Lodges on the night she was allegedly assaulted by her boyfriend and his sister.

Judge Roberto Lange overturned the decision on Monday after studying the entire recorded interview with Two Bulls and discovering that he never said at any point that he was too intoxicated to remember what happened to her. Instead, Two Bulls says specifically that he was too drunk to remember when he borrowed Between Lodge’s car over the weekend she was assaulted.

The assault occurred the first weekend of November of 2018. Prosecutors believe that Between Lodge’s was beaten by her boyfriend, Gilbert Lakota and his sister Lily Larvie, and then left unconscious in her bedroom. Two Bulls lived with them at times and prosecutors suspect that he witnessed or was aware of the assault.

Between Lodges wasn’t found until Monday, November 5, when her boyfriend apparently called 911 and reported that she had been unconscious for two or three days and could not be woken up.

Between Lodges was later transported to Rapid City Regional Hospital with life-threatening injuries. She ended up suffering a prolonged coma and has no recollection of the incident.

Lakota and Larvie deny they assaulted Between Lodges and have never been indicted or charged with the crime. During his trial, Two Bulls’s defense attorney argued that prosecutors wanted to find him guilty in order to get closer to convicting them.

Jury verdicts are rarely overturned and Judge Lange notes in his order that he has never granted a judgment of acquittal of this nature. However, Lange argues, no “reasonable jury” could have found Two Bulls guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in this case.

Sheena Between Lodges is frequently referenced as one of the many high-profile cases involving Native American women who have been victimized in part because of systematic failures, and whose perpetrators have never been convicted.









Categories: Crime, Local News, South Dakota News