Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Sutherland sentenced to 21 years in Rocky Boy strangling murder


October 18, 2019

Gavin Tyrone Sutherland of Rocky Boy, 35, was sentenced Thursday in federal District Court in Great Falls to 21 years and four months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to strangling a woman to death July 7, 2018, on the reservation.

Online federal court records say U.S. District Judge John Morris sentenced Sutherland during the hearing Thursday morning in the Missouri River Federal Courthouse, also ordering him to pay $3,500 in restitution.

Sutherland, 35, pleaded guilty under a plea agreement May 7 to second degree murder.

Sutherland strangled the victim, identified by the FBI in October 2018 as Dora Cole Licht, at her home on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.

A charging document said that when Sutherland was interviewed Oct. 3, 2018, he waived his Miranda rights and told the investigator, “I killed my sister … I choked her,” after being told to do so by voices he heard.

Two witnesses said that shortly after midnight, they, Sutherland and Licht were the only people in the house and Licht became upset over some money she thought had been stolen.

She called Sutherland into her bedroom, the witnesses said, and a few minutes later they heard a thumping sound on the wall and Licht scream, “the sound a woman makes when she gets hit … or when she’s scared,” a court document said.

They heard Licht tell Sutherland to leave, and they left the house, afraid he would come out and want to fight one of the witnesses, they said. They went to a neighboring house and thought Sutherland was following them, locked the door and heard someone trying to get inside.

The victim’s body was found shortly after the murder by the victim’s 12-year-old son, who had been visiting relatives out of state and arrived home that night.

He arrived at about 1 a.m. to find his mother dead on the floor in her bedroom.

In September, Sutherland was arrested on unrelated charges and extradited from the state of Washington to Great Falls, the document said.

When the investigating officer interviewed Sutherland Oct. 3, 2018, he said he was talking to Licht in her bedroom when he began to hear voices and see a dark shadow, which he called “shadow man,” the document said.

He told the investigator the voices told him to kill Licht, and if he did, they would stop haunting him.

At that point he killed Licht, choking her, Sutherland told the investigator.


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