Western South Dakota man guilty of lying but jury deadlocks on coverup charge

RAPID CITY, S.D. - A Pine Ridge man charged with crimes related to the brutal beating of a woman received a mixed verdict Friday, March 15, after a two-day trial at the federal courthouse in Rapid City.

The 12-person jury agreed that Weldon Two Bulls was guilty of making a false statement for telling a federal agent that he was too drunk to remember what happened to Sheena Between Lodges, who needed brain surgery after being found with a brain bleed and bruises all over her body, court records show. But the jury couldn't agree whether he was also guilty of being an accessory after the fact by shielding the assaulters from facing justice.

Two Bulls faces a five-year maximum prison sentence for the lying charge. He could have spent up to five more years in prison if he had been convicted of the accessory charge.

The trial was unique because Two Bulls was being accused of crimes related to an assault no one has been charged with. Defense attorney Jennifer Albertson said during her opening statement that the prosecution needs guilty verdicts from Two Bulls so they can use him to go after the assault suspects.

A spokeswoman for the U.S Attorney's Office said she could not comment on whether prosecutors plan to re-try Two Bulls on the accessory charge, or whether the public should expect to see a suspect or suspects charged with assault.

Jurors came to their decision around 10 p.m. Friday after deliberating for about 5½ hours and listening to witnesses earlier that day and Tuesday, court records show. The trial was put on hold Wednesday and Thursday due to the blizzard.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassandra DeCoste called 11 witnesses, including Between Lodges, her neurosurgeon, and a Bureau of Indian Affairs agent who interviewed Two Bulls, according to the records. Elgin Young Bear, Between Lodges' brother, and Wylene Two Lance, Young Bear's wife, also testified. DeCoste said during her opening statement that Two Bulls told the couple that Gilbert Lakota and Lily Larvie beat up Between Lodges.

Jurors also examined evidence including photographs of Between Lodges' injuries, a 911 call and interview transcripts, court records show. Lakota, Larvie and Two Bulls did not testify and his defense lawyer did not call any witnesses.

Between Lodges was assaulted Nov. 2, 2018, but not hospitalized until Nov. 5, according to court documents.