- Associated Press - Monday, September 14, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A man accused of stabbing the Bureau of Indian Affairs superintendent in the back on South Dakota’s Crow Creek Indian Reservation was sentenced Monday to 18 years in federal prison.

Brian Iron Boulder, 51, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, pleaded guilty in June to attempted murder after authorities said he stabbed Patrick F. Duffy in the back with a knife on March 25, penetrating Duffy’s chest wall. Duffy underwent two surgeries at a Sioux Falls hospital and returned to work about two months after being stabbed.

The government dropped assault charges in the plea deal with Iron Boulder, who could have faced up to 20 years in prison. The sentence he was given by U.S. District Judge Roberto Lange in Pierre, South Dakota, was in the middle of a range of between 15 ½ and 19 ½ years that attorneys on each side agreed to.

Defense attorney Douglas A. Abraham declined comment after the sentencing, saying he does not talk publically about his cases. He wrote in court documents last week that Iron Boulder deserved a lower-than-maximum sentence in part because he was drunk when he stabbed Duffy and that there was no premeditation.

“Due to Mr. Duffy’s vulnerable position, (Iron Boulder) could have easily stabbed him multiple times and inflicted much more significant damage,” Abraham wrote.

Duffy, who oversees BIA facilities in Fort Thompson and manages tribal land in his role as superintendent, has asked for privacy and declined comment on the incident. Federal prosecutors said they consulted with him before offering the plea deal.

“The attempted murder of this federal employee in his own workplace was a disturbing crime, and the 18-year sentence handed down today demonstrates that justice was served,” Acting U.S. Attorney Randolph Seiler said in a statement. “Everyone has a right to feel safe in their work environment, and when that is jeopardized by an act of violence, the consequences of the crime must send a strong message.”

Court documents allege that Iron Boulder used a pocket knife with a 4-inch blade to stab Duffy after speaking with him at his office more than once about Iron Boulder’s girlfriend’s land holdings. Iron Boulder’s blood-alcohol content at the time of the stabbing was 0.179, more than double the legal limit for driving, Abraham said in court documents.

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