Race Complicates Reservation Crime Fight - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Race Complicates Reservation Crime Fight

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - For more than two hours on the night of May 16, 2007, Shane Maggi terrorized a Native American couple at their home on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana, pistol whipping them and firing bullets above the husband's head.

Maggi, who suspected the couple had stolen his drugs, was convicted by a federal jury in 2008 and sentenced to more than 42 years in prison. But an appellate court here found Maggi did not meet its definition of a Native American and, as a result, had been prosecuted under the wrong federal statute. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Maggi's conviction in March.

The case illustrates a hazard of the complex legal system used to mete out justice on American Indian reservations, a system that relies largely on race to determine jurisdiction.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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