News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Four-plus years in prison for man in knife attack
Mar 4, 2014 - From staff reports
A Northern Arapaho man has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for an assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to the mother of his children.
Ronan Whiteplume, 30, also will serve three years of supervised release and pay more than $21,000 in restitution for the offense, which stemmed from an assault in July 2013 against Rochelle D. Addison, a Northern Arapaho woman.
Their children, ages 3 and 18 months, were present during much of the assault, according to court documents.
In an interview Aug. 20, 2013, Addison said she and Whiteplume, her boyfriend, had gotten into a verbal argument July 31 over a lost vehicle title.
The argument took place at her mother's residence, 536 Blue Sky Highway, where Addison lives with her children and her brother. Whiteplume occasionally spent the night at the residence, according to Addison.
Children witnessed attack
After the argument, Addison said she was afraid of Whiteplume, so she took her children to City Park in Lander to get away from him.
She returned to the residence at about 8:30 p.m., but no one was home, and she said she did not want to be alone in case Whiteplume arrived, so she took the children with her to the house next door, where her neighbor Damian Black Bear lives.
At about 9:45 p.m., she said Whiteplume arrived, visibly drunk. When he saw her with Black Bear, he accused them of having a sexual relationship, punching Black Bear and Whiteplume and knocking them both to the ground.
While she was on the ground, Whiteplume held Addison by the hair with his left hand while he punched her repeatedly in the face and head with his right fist.
Next, he started punching Black Bear.
Addison said she saw her two children walking back toward 536 Blue Sky Highway while Whiteplume was hitting her. She went back to the house too, and she said Whiteplume followed her. Reportedly, he attacked her outside of the house, grabbing a brown metal folding chair from the carport and hitting her over the head multiple times with it, knocking her to the ground.
She said he dragged her inside and began to punch her in the head and face, kneeing her repeatedly in her groin and stomach.
While he punched her in the hallway, she said she saw her two children hiding in her bedroom underneath the blankets of her bed. She crawled into the bedroom and tried to sit on the bed while Whiteplume placed her in a headlock, wrapping his right arm around her neck.
She said he was holding a large, black-handled, stainless steel kitchen knife with a single-sided, serrated blade about 8 inches long. Reports stated that he told her he was going to cut her head off, forcing the tip and serrated blade of the knife into her mouth. With the blade facing Addison, he moved the knife in a sawing motion to cut her mouth and tongue. She said she started gagging and choking and could taste the metal of the knife mixing with the blood coming from her mouth.
Addison began to struggle, and Whiteplume knocked her to the floor by the bedroom door. He dropped the knife, and she said she lay on top of it to try to keep it from him, but he grabbed it again. She crawled to the bathroom, and he followed her with the knife, slapping her on the head and face with it while calling her "whore" and "slut."
She sat on the bathroom toilet and told him she needed help. He is reported to have said that if the police showed up he would lie and say she had attacked him with the knife.
Addison said she felt like she was going to lose consciousness, so she climbed into the bathtub.
At that point, at about 10 p.m., Addison's brother, Robert Felter Sr., came home from a work-related event and said he heard Addison screaming and crying inside of the house while Whiteplume yelled at her. Felter said he yelled into the house from the doorway and that Whiteplume walked toward him holding the knife and asking, "You want some of this too?"
The men moved to the carport, where Whiteplume drunkenly attempted to stab Felter, according to court documents. Felter said he knocked Whiteplume to the ground and used a folding chair to create a barrier while calling 911.
Investigators say Whiteplume tried to attack Felter again with the knife, but Felter knocked him to the ground a second time on the driveway. Whiteplume dropped the knife and fled on foot to an adjacent field. Felter's mother had returned home by then and saw Whiteplume running away.
Week in hospital
Addison then exited the house and lay down in the carport until an ambulance arrived. Emergency responders said her face, hands and clothing were covered with blood, and she was transported to Lander Regional Hospital to be treated for "significant" blunt force trauma to hear head, face, neck and throat.
Reports state she suffered apparent knife injuries to her lips and hands as well as a closed head injury, a nasal bone fracture, a concussion, anemia due to blood loss, multiple lacerations to her mouth, and swelling around her eyes. Court documents state she was intubated to treat the injuries and reduce the risk of death; she remained at the hospital until Aug. 6, 2013.
Whiteplume's initial appearance in court was Oct. 10, 2013. He pleaded not guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury during an arraignment Oct. 16, 2013, but changed his plea to "guilty" Dec. 10, 2013. He was sentenced Feb. 20.