A mission member charged with murder, assault and child molestation blamed the 8-year-old victim’s 9-year-old sister for the injuries that led to her death, court documents show.
A federal grand jury indicted Noah White Lance III, 33, on November 8 of first-degree murder, assault with a dangerous weapon on a child, assault with aggravated assault on a child and child abuse for the abuse and death of August 8 -year-olds and abuse towards the 9-year-old.
According to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Nathan Entingh, Matt Tucker, special agent for Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services, told him that White Lance called 911 on Aug. 11 and said the 8-year-old girl had not responded after her sister grabbed her hair and pulled her down, hitting her head.
First responders arrived at a residence in Mission where White Lance and the two girls lived outside. White Lance carried the unresponsive 8-year-old girl. She was flown to Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls and placed on life support. A doctor in Indiana reviewed CT scans of the girl’s brain and described the brain trauma she suffered as acute, chronic, non-accidental and consistent with child abuse.
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On August 12, a registered nurse interviewed the girl’s sister at the Central South Dakota Child Advocacy Center. She said she wrestled with her little sister, who forgot how to tap and banged her head on the floor.
The 8-year-old girl died on August 13 after being taken off life support. After a welfare ministry worker informed the 9-year-old of her sister’s death via a Zoom call, she said: “My father did it because he hit her too hard.”
During an interview five days after her sister’s death, the girl told the same certified nurse that White Lance made her wrestle her sister to teach her a lesson and that White Lance had both girls with different objects in the past , including a belt, a slipper and the White Lance work boot. The girl during this interview did not want to talk about what happened before her sister was hospitalized.
In a third interview, the girl again refused to talk about the incident, went into a bathroom and started crying.
A month later, FBI Child Forensic Interviewer Amy Scarmon interviewed three child witnesses, all of whom stated that White Lance instructed the 9-year-old girl to “hit” her younger sister and that White Lance and the 9-year-old beat the now-dead girl the day she was taken to hospital.
White Lance pleaded not guilty to the charges when he appeared before US Judge Mark Moreno on November 9. The penalty, if convicted, is life imprisonment and/or a fine of $250,000 and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. A judge can also order compensation.
The case is in federal court because the alleged murder took place on the Rosebud Indian Reservation and White Lance is a chartered member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe.
White Lance is due to stand trial in Pierre on January 3, 2023 if he does not reach an agreement with the government by December 20.
— Contact Shalom Baer Gee at [email protected] —