Elwyn “Jack” Has The Eagle of Lodge Pole was sentenced in federal District Court in Great Falls Monday for tampering with a witness during his son’s murder trial, an offense tied to a special initiative the U. S. attorney’s office is implementing to prevent coercion in Indian Country.
In connection with his sentencing, U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter held a press conference in Great Falls Monday, describing the Fearless Justice initiative being implemented in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and tribal authorities. The initiative is intended to reduce intimidation and coercion of victims and witnesses to crime.
A jury convicted Has The Eagle Aug. 4 of obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
Monday, U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon sentenced him to nine years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
Has The Eagle was convicted of trying to persuade a witness to testify that his son, Jay Has The Eagle, was “crazy” at the time of his murder of two elderly Fort Belknap Indian Reservation residents.
Jay Has The Eagle was convicted Oct. 29, 2009, following a trial in the federal District Court in Great Falls of the murders of Calvin Snell, 69, and Doreen Manzanares, 62, at their residence in Lodge Pole Dec. 17, 2008.
The witness said that Jack Has The Eagle had been calling her for several months before Jay Has The Eagle’s trial.
After she told FBI agents that Jack Has The Eagle had instructed her to lie on the stand, agents recorded telephone conversations Oct. 19 and Oct. 20 in which he told the witness to testify that Jay Has the Eagle, who had notified that court that he would use an insanity defense, was “hearing voices, ” that he was drunk, and that she needed to “stick to the story. ”
During the Oct. 20, 2009, conversation, the witness said to Jack Has The Eagle “you want me to lie” to which the defendant replied, “Yeah. Just tell him, yeah, he heard voices. He tells you he heard voices. ”
The prosecution played for the jury the recordings of the telephone calls as evidence of obstruction and witness tampering during Jack Has The Eagle’s trial.
During the trial, the witness also testified that Has The Eagle had threatened her if she did not give false testimony during his son’s trial. The witness did not perjure herself during Jay Has The Eagle’s trial.