GREAT FALLS - Gavin Tyrone Sutherland, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the 2018 death of Shannon Dora Licht, was sentenced in federal court in Great Falls on Thursday.
Sutherland was sentenced to 256 months (21.3 years) in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $3,500 in restitution.
U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided at the hearing.
“Violence against Native American women is all too common in our country and must stop. Those who harm these wives, mothers, sisters and daughters will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said in a news release.
The prosecution said in court records that Sutherland strangled the victim to death on July 7, 2018 at the victim’s home on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation. Late in the evening on July 6, Sutherland arrived at the victim’s home. Two other adults and the victim’s two-year-old child were present in the residence. Sometime after midnight, the victim became upset over some money she thought had been stolen from her and she called Sutherland into her bedroom.
A few minutes later, the two other adults heard the victim scream and other noises and thought that Sutherland was trying to rob her. The two adults got scared and ran to a neighbor’s house. The victim’s body was found shortly after the murder by the victim’s 12-year-old son, who arrived at the house after being away.
Sutherland told investigators he intentionally killed the victim by choking her and that he had fled the scene and the state after the murder.