A 27-year-old woman was sentenced Wednesday to five years of probation for failing to report a fatal shooting she witnessed on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation last year.
Tyler Schae Brewer earlier pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony in the death of fellow Pine Ridge village resident, 34-year-old Annie Colhoff.
Brewer said Colhoff was killed by a male acquaintance following an argument at Colhoff’s home on the night of Sept. 29, 2016. Brewer then went to Denver via Rapid City with the man and a few other people, according to a statement she submitted to the court.
A Colorado man, 37-year-old Orlando Guadalupe Villanueva de Macias, has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Colhoff’s killing. Villanueva told the court Colhoff was armed with a knife when he shot her during their argument.
At the Rapid City federal courthouse Wednesday afternoon, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rich recommended a probationary sentence for Brewer, echoing the request of defense attorney John Rusch. Brewer had been facing up to 2-1/2 years in prison.
Rich said Brewer’s offense occurred under a “unique set of circumstances” and was part of a “complex situation.”
Rusch expanded on these statements in an interview after the hearing. He said Villanueva took Brewer to Rapid City and Denver against her will, then held her in a Denver home for about a week without access to a phone. Villanueva had apparently talked about taking Brewer to Mexico since she had witnessed Colhoff’s shooting.
During this time, Rusch said, Brewer’s family had reported her kidnapped. But when police came into contact with Brewer and Villanueva in Denver and asked if she had been kidnapped, she denied it for fear of being hurt, her lawyer said.
Brewer earlier admitted telling police she had been in Denver when Colhoff was shot and that she did not know Villanueva’s name.
Another defendant in the case, 25-year-old Stevie Ray Makes Good, initially charged with lying to federal authorities, pleaded guilty to a meth offense under a deal with prosecutors. She was sentenced to jail time served and three years of supervised release.
Brewer was arrested in Colorado in October 2016 and has spent several weeks at the Pennington County Jail.
“I pretty much learned my lesson. I’m ready to change,” Brewer told U.S. District Court Chief Judge Jeffrey Viken at her sentencing hearing. “I’ll complete probation. I’ll just do good.”
She talked about missing Colhoff, a friend, as well as her brother Vinny Brewer, who was shot to death outside a Pine Ridge youth center in October 2016 over an alleged drug debt.
Brewer’s father and mother also spoke, saying their family has been through so much suffering in the past year. They asked the judge to allow their daughter to go home.
“You’ve been through a lot, and I think it’s time now to get back to your family,” Viken told Brewer. “As you said in your letter, you can do this, and I trust that.”
Her probationary sentence includes several conditions, including undergoing substance abuse treatment and taking regular drug tests for her meth problem.
Viken acknowledged that illegal drugs and firearms have created a lot of destruction on the reservation in recent years.
“Things are about as tough on Pine Ridge as I’ve seen in 40 years,” he said. “Really difficult time for so many families.”