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Prison term for man who beat niece with barbell

Dec 13, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

A federal judge ordered him to serve two years in prison.

A Northern Arapaho man was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison for beating his niece with a 20-pound barbell on May 20. An affidavit suggests a neighbor helped the woman escape the assault.

U.S. District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl also ordered Jess Theodore Birdshead, 47, of Arapahoe, to serve three years of supervised release after his prison term and to pay $5,700 in restitution.

Birdshead pleaded guilty to one count of assault with a dangerous weapon Oct. 2 following a plea agreement, which also outlined his penalty.

On May 21, Birdshead told Bureau of Indian Affairs special agent Jeremy Voorhies that on May 20 he was drinking Bud Light beer and Black Velvet whiskey and became very drunk, according to an affidavit by Voorhies. The defendant said he did not remember anything from that day.

Birdshead's niece, Tashina Birdshead, told Voorhies she was in her bedroom with her sister Kayla Black watching TV at the home she shared with her uncle on Left Hand Ditch Road in Arapahoe on May 20.

Jess Birdshead was drunk and mad the two women would not come out and socialize with him.

Jess Birdshead accused his niece of bothering him, the woman said. She told him to go to bed, and Black told him to "knock it off."

Their uncle came in the bedroom and began punching her in the face, Tashina Birdshead told Voorhies. She used her legs and feet to fight back and thought she kicked her uncle in the groin, stomach and back.

Jess Birdshead also tried to gouge out her right eye and pulled her hair, Tashina Birdshead stated. During the assault, Black was able to escape form the room and ran to a neighbor's residence.

Jess Birdshead then picked up a black weight and, using both hands, struck his niece with it at least three or four times, the woman told officers.

At some point, an male voice she did not recognize said, "Tina, run" and she ran to the same neighbor's residence as her sister.

Black corroborated her sister's story about the assault in an interview with BIA officers. Black said she found a large man she did not know at the neighbor's residence, and he went to help her sister.

Authorities after their initial interviews with the women on May 20 learned Jess Birdshead was still at his residence, and Tashina Birdshead was transported to Riverton Memorial Hospital.

BIA officers went to the Birdshead home and located Jess Birdshead lying on his stomach in what appeared to be dried blood in a back bedroom. Officers believed him intoxicated due to Birdshead's slurred speech and a strong smell of alcohol, according to the affidavit.

The man said someone had assaulted him, but he would not say who it was. Officers saw his right eye was swollen shut, and blood was on his face.

Officers found no one else at the residence and arrested Birdshead.

Later that day, Voorhies investigated the Birdshead home and found blood spattered on the floor, television and door of Tashina Birdshead's bedroom, according to the affidavit. Voorhies also seized a 20-pound barbell from the floor of the room that had blood on it.

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