By K. Marie Porterfield
Indian Country Today Correspondent
MONTEVIDEO, Minn. – After deliberating four hours, a Yellow Medicine County jury brought in a guilty verdict against Burr Crowsbreast III for the first-degree, premeditated murder of his girlfriend, LaTisha Joy Brien. The charge carries a mandatory life sentence.
Brien’s battered body was found hidden beneath a mattress in a junk pile near the Upper Sioux Reservation on Jan. 18. According to authorities, Crowsbreast had a history of domestic violence. Last year he was convicted of kicking her in the face and head. Two weeks prior to her death, Crowsbreast had assaulted her so severely, her lacerations required 20 stitches during an emergency room visit.
Crowsbreast was also found guilty of domestic abuse murder, second-degree intentional murder, second-degree felony murder, first-degree assault and second-degree assault for beating Brien to death with a baseball bat. The verdict was read on July 27.
“We were pleased with the result,” said Yellow Medicine County Attorney, Thomas Kramer, who prosecuted the case. “We wanted to send the message that violence like this will not be tolerated.”
Jury selection began Aug. 30 in Crowsbreast’s Chippewa County trial for the murder of Reginald LaBatte. Crowsbreast is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of felony assault in La Batte’s death, which occurred several hours after that of Brien.
Crowsbreast was arrested Jan. 15, when he was found, blood-covered and unconscious in the room next to where La Battle lay dead. Investigators believe the man had been beaten to death with a wrought iron table. The two are believed to have spent the afternoon drinking in the victim’s girlfriend’s Granite Falls apartment.