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Three days before his trial Monday, a McLaughlin man admitted participating in the killing of a 5-year-old girl on the Standing Rock reservation in October. The child’s mother earlier pleaded guilty to the same offense.

Matthew St. Pierre, 31, pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to aiding and abetting second-degree murder, punishable by up to life in prison.

St. Pierre killed the girl by inflicting “blunt force trauma to her body,” according to a signed statement that accompanied his plea agreement with prosecutors.

He said the child’s mother and his co-defendant, Desarae Makes Him First, participated in the crime.

Makes Him First pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last month. St. Pierre had been set to go on trial next week.

Prosecutors have said St. Pierre and Makes Him First were involved in a “domestic relationship” at the time of the incident. The couple, authorities said, shared a room in a house on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation with Makes Him First’s two daughters. St. Pierre reportedly served as a father figure to them.

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A preliminary autopsy revealed that the victim had multiple bruises on her body, including on her chest, left thigh, neck, face, arms and legs, according to an FBI statement submitted to the court. The examination also revealed a tear in the girl’s abdomen, which resulted in internal bleeding and ultimately her death, the statement reads.

Investigators said the couple repeatedly struck the child on Oct. 11 and 12, causing fatal injuries.

St. Pierre and Makes Him First were initially charged with aiding and abetting in the following offenses: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, assault resulting in serious bodily injury to a child and child abuse. The charges will be dismissed under their plea agreements.

They are both scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 20 at the federal courthouse in Aberdeen.

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Rapid City Journal