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Spokane Tribal Member Found Guilty of Assaulting His Partner with a Knife and Attempting to Suffocate Her

Spokane, Washington – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that a jury returned a verdict on April 9, 2024, following the trial of 40-year-old Marvin Samson Butterfly. Butterfly was found guilty of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Indian Country, Assault of an Intimate Partner and Dating Partner by Suffocating and Attempting to Suffocate in Indian Country, and Attempted Witness Tampering.

Evidence introduced at trial established that on September 16, 2023, officers with the Spokane Tribal Police Department were called to a home in Ford, Washington for a reported domestic assault. The victim told officers that Butterfly, who is an enrolled member of the Spokane Tribe, assaulted her. Butterfly was upset with the victim because the victim had let another woman shelter in her home because of the cold weather. Butterfly began shouting, took out a long knife and began stabbing the floors, doors, and furniture. Butterfly then assaulted the victim by holding the knife against her throat and said, “this is how you kill someone.” Butterfly pushed the victim down on the couch, placed his hand over the victim’s mouth and attempted to suffocate her. Butterfly used such force; it left a bruise. The victim was able to pry Butterfly’s fingers off her face. Butterfly then left the home in the victim’s vehicle. Officers found Butterfly the next morning asleep in the victim’s vehicle. He was arrested and taken to the Spokane County Jail.

On November 2, 2023, while in jail, Butterfly placed a recorded telephone call to his neighbor. During the call, Butterfly made several statements indicating he did not want the victim to testify. Butterfly encouraged his neighbor to stress to the victim that he would be coming home if she did not speak to investigators.

United States District Judge Thomas O. Rice presided over the trial, which began on April 8, 2024. Sentencing in this matter is set for July 10, 2024.

“Everyone deserves to live in a safe home free of violence. Native Americans experience some of the highest rates of violence in the country, a situation that is more tragic in light of the generations of trauma already suffered by Indigenous people, especially Native American women,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “By working with our tribal and federal law enforcement partners, we can continue to build trust and foster safer and stronger communities on Tribal lands and throughout Eastern Washington.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Spokane Tribal Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Ellis.

A video statement from U.S. Attorney Waldref can be found here. 

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