By Tim Eberly
A Fort Belknap man pleaded not guilty to assault charges last week in the stabbing of his brother in early February, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Dion Lee Longknife, 33, a resident of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Great Falls on Nov. 19 to charges of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and assault with a dangerous weapon. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and six years of supervised release if convicted.
Longknife is accused of stabbing his younger brother, Wilborn Longknife, 24 times, including in the arms, legs, stomach and face, on Feb. 4.
The incident began in their vehicle and continued on the ground in the back yard of their parents' home, said Ruth Longknife, Dion and Wilborn's mother.
On Feb. 3, Dion and Wilborn Longknife, 31, went out drinking with a cousin to a bar in Zortman, their family's hometown, Wilborn said. Wilborn, who had recently broken his leg while bull riding, was treating his brother and cousin to drinks.
Later in the evening, Dion started bullying his brother, according to Wilborn.
"He just kept getting smart about stuff," said Wilborn, a resident of Malta. "He said I was a big spoiled brat."
When they arrived at their parents' home, Dion initiated the assault, Wilborn said.
"I was trying to get out (of the car) and go inside the house. I was trying to fight back. He had me braced up against a big wood pile. I couldn't move."
A barking dog awoke their mother. She woke her husband, Leroy, a retired Fort Belknap police officer, and went outside.
"I didn't know it was Wilborn right away," she said. "Then I saw Dion over him. I said to Dion, What are you trying to do? Kill your brother?' "
Dion fled on foot. Wilborn was taken to the local hospital. He stayed overnight but checked himself out the next day.
After he was taken into custody, Dion was released on a work-release program under the supervision of the Fort Belknap police.
Several months after his release, Dion violated the terms of his release by not reporting his whereabouts to the Fort Belknap police and is now in federal custody in Great Falls, according to the FBI.
"I try not to think about what's going to occur between Dion and the law," his mother said. "It really hurts me. I know he's facing time but I try not to think about it. I can't see him wasting his life like this."
"He really wanted to get into treatment," she added. "He really wanted to get off drugs."