Red Lake man sentenced to 129 months in prison for second degree murder

Press Pool

Missing and Murdered Indigenous People cases a top priority for U.S. Attorney’s Office and Department of Justice

News Release

United States Department of Justice 

Erica H. MacDonald
United States Attorney
District of Minnesota

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald yesterday announced the sentencing of JEREMIAH KINGBIRD, 39, to 192 months in prison for second degree murder. KINGBIRD, who pleaded guilty on October 8, 2019, was sentenced today before Judge Susan Richard Nelson in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“Addressing Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) cases is a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and for the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald. “In this particular case, Mr. Kingbird subjected his wife to extreme physical violence before leaving her on the side of a road, exposed to below freezing temperatures. The disproportionally high rates of violence that plague Native American women is unacceptable. Today’s sentence represents justice for the victim and our commitment to putting an end to the staggering Missing and Murdered Indigenous People issue.”

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, during the early morning hours of January 6, 2019, following a night of drinking, KINGBIRD and the victim, KINGBIRD’s wife, were traveling in a motor vehicle to their home in Ponemah, Minnesota, when KINGBIRD and the victim began to argue and engage in a physical altercation. While driving, KINGBIRD struck the victim in her head, used his hand to strangle her, and then left her on the road near Highway 1 and Old Ponemah Road in Redby.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, law enforcement found the victim, hours later, lying face down in the snow; she had severe injuries to her head and neck and was having difficulty breathing. The victim was transported to the Red Lake Indian Health Service (IHS) Hospital where hospital staff were unsuccessful in reviving her. During a search of KINGBIRD’s vehicle, law enforcement observed blood on the front passenger window of the vehicle. KINGBIRD admitted to violently assaulting the victim and leaving her outside in the elements.

On November 22, 2019, Attorney General William P. Barr launched a national strategy to address missing and murdered Native Americans. When establishing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Initiative the Department of Justice made an initial investment of $1.5 million to hire 11 Missing and Murdered Indigenous People coordinators in 11 states to serve with all U.S. Attorney’s offices in those states, and others who require assistance. In addition to Minnesota, Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Oklahoma, Michigan, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, New Mexico, and Washington state were selected.

This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the Red Lake Tribal Police Department and the FBI Headwaters Safe Trails Task Force.

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Gina L. Allery and Assistant U.S. Attorney Deidre Y. Aanstad.

Defendant Information:

JEREMIAH KINGBIRD, 39

Ponemah, Minn.

Convicted:

  • Murder in the second degree, 1 count

Sentenced:

  • 192 months in prison
  • 5 years of supervised release
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(Image: U.S. Department of Justice)
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