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Minnesota man Indicted for Assaulting a Man with an Axe Handle

This news story was published on February 27, 2012.
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MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court, a 47-year-old Red Lake man was indicted for allegedly assaulting a Redby man with an axe handle on January 13, 2012. The indictment charges Joseph William Howard, Jr., with one count of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

The indictment alleges that on January 13, Howard, an Indian, assaulted the victim without just cause. According to a law enforcement affidavit filed in the case, authorities were called to a residence on the Red Lake Indian Reservation on that day. There, they allegedly found the victim, whose face had been severely beaten and lacerated. Officers also reportedly discovered blood splattered on the victim’s bed and bedroom walls. Purportedly, a bloody axe handle was ultimately found behind the dryer in the home’s utility room. The victim was subsequently airlifted to a Fargo, North Dakota, hospital, where he remained for 10 days with multiple fractures and a ruptured left eye.

If convicted, Howard faces a potential maximum penalty of ten years in prison on each charge. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge. This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Red Lake Tribal Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Deidre Y. Aanstad.

Because the Red Lake Indian Reservation is a federal jurisdiction reservation, some of the crimes that occur there are investigated by the FBI in conjunction with the Red Lake Tribal Police Department. Those cases are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.

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