Spirit Lake man pleads guilty to murder in death of foster child
Charge carries mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison
FARGO — A Tokio, N.D., man who was accused in 2020 of killing a 5-year-old foster child who was in his care, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, March 30, to a charge of first-degree felony murder.
Erich Longie Jr., 43, also pleaded guilty to four other charges stemming from the death of 5-year-old Raven Thompson, including three counts of child abuse in Indian Country and one count of child neglect in Indian Country.
The non-murder charges relate to three other children who were in Longie's care in addition to Raven Thompson, including her brother, Zane Thompson.
A pre-sentence investigation was ordered, and court officials indicated Tuesday that a sentencing hearing will be held at a future date, possibly in August or September.
The murder charge Longie pleaded guilty to carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison.
He entered the guilty pleas as part of an agreement that involves the prosecution supporting favorable adjustments in the computation of Longie's base offense level for his sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Conroy said Tuesday she will present the court with the government's recommended sentence at the time Erich Longie is sentenced.
Longie's wife and co-defendant, Tammy Longie, is scheduled to stand trial in federal court on June 29 on charges identical to those her husband pleaded guilty to on Tuesday.
According to court records and information provided during Erich Longie's plea hearing Tuesday, Tammy Longie reported the death of Raven Thompson on May 6, 2020, and authorities found the girl's body on a concrete floor in the basement of the couple's Tokio home.
Medical workers told authorities the girl had bruising over much of her body, and she was very dehydrated at the time of her death.
Court records also indicate that after the girl's body was found a social services investigator found her brother, Zane Thompson, 7, in the back of an SUV at the couple's residence.
Information provided during Tuesday's plea hearing indicated the boy was hospitalized for more than a month for various injuries and health issues, including heart failure determined to be caused by malnutrition.
Two of the charges Erich Longie pleaded guilty to Tuesday related to the abuse and neglect of Zane Thompson, while two other charges he pleaded guilty to related to the abuse of two other children, who were 6 and 8 at the time, according to court records.
In all, seven children were removed from the Longies' residence following Raven Thompson's death, according to court records.