A 13-year-old boy has been jailed for his part in a home invasion — he was one of two boys who terrified a mother as her two young children slept in their home.
"This is exactly the kind of offending that has many people living on our reserves wondering are they even safe in their own homes," Crown attorney Rich Lonstrup said in Brandon court on Monday.
The 13-year-old was also put on probation for a previous crime in which he and his accomplice in the later home invasion tried to set fire to a police car.
Both incidents happened at Birdtail Sioux First Nation last year.
Police had arrested the 13-year-old’s friend on Sept. 18 in connection to break and enters and other previous crimes. As that boy was arrested, he cried and told police he was going to get them.
Later, police emerged from the Dakota Ojibway Police Service station to find the police cruiser with two flat tires.
Officers checked the video footage from surveillance cameras outside the office.
The cameras had caught the 13-year-old and the 14-year-old friend who’d been arrested earlier. In the footage, they could be seen carrying a gas can and a baseball bat.
The 13-year-old poured gas on the police cruiser while the 14-year-old tried to light it with a lighter, but the car wouldn’t set on fire.
The boys then left but returned and were caught on video as the 13-year-old, armed with a baseball bat, knocked on the police station door while the 14-year-old stood beside the stairs.
Again, they left and returned and the 13-year-old could be seen on video footage letting the air out of one of the police car’s tires.
Lonstrup said the police car tires were "wrecked" and that would have prevented Birdtail-based DOPS officers from responding to emergencies.
The force was already spread thin — the ruined tires meant officers from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation would have had to respond to Birdtail emergencies had there been any. That would have lengthened response times, especially considering that officers sometimes also have to travel between Birdtail and Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation.
Then, on Jan. 23, the same youths — rags covering their faces — broke into a home at the Birdtail reserve.
A mother and her two sleeping children — aged eight and six years — were in the house at the time.
One of the boys was armed with a baseball bat and they demanded money from the mother who handed over cigarettes as it was all she had to give.
The mom, who was able to identify one of the boys despite their rag masks — the 13-year-old was her young daughter’s school mate — called police and the robbers were quickly found walking in the area and arrested.
The 13-year-old pleaded guilty in Brandon court on Monday to attempted arson and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose — the baseball bat — for the incident at the DOPS station.
For the home invasion, he pleaded guilty to housebreak and enter and robbery.
He also pleaded to breaking a number of bail conditions on both dates. At the time, he was pending on a series of break-ins — four to stores in Miniota and Birdtail, and one to the Birdtail fire hall. On Feb. 27, while in custody, the boy was sentenced to 18 months probation for those break-ins.
For the incident at the DOPS station and the breaches from that date, Judge John Combs imposed a one-year probation order.
For the home invasion and the bail breaches from that incident, Combs gave the youth credit for 68 days pre-sentence custody and imposed another 80 days in jail to be followed by 40 days supervision in the community.
Also in court on Monday, the 14-year-old co-accused pleaded guilty to attempted arson, break, enter and commit robbery and various bail breaches.
In addition, he pleaded guilty to two separate break-ins to Miniota store.
This second teen remains in custody as he awaits sentencing on May 5.
» Twitter: @IanHitchen
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 1, 2014