Fort Duchesne man pleads guilty to manslaughter in fatal reservation shooting

A Fort Duchesne man has pleaded guilty in federal court to voluntary manslaughter in the 2016 shooting death of a Ute tribal member during an argument on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation.

A plea deal calls for Trent Sowsonicut — who entered his guilty plea on Monday — to be sentenced to 78 months in federal prison. The term is subject to the approval of U.S. District Judge David Sam, who is scheduled to sentence the 28-year-old Sowsonicut on March 15.

Sowsonicut, who also is a tribal member, admitted in a written statement that he went to the Gusher residence of 28-year-old LeRoy Murray on Aug. 13, 2016, armed with a loaded shotgun. The two men quarreled and Sowsonicut shot Murray in the leg, according to the statement.

Emergency responders arrived at the residence about 1:07 a.m. and attempted to stabilize Murray. He died later that day at the University of Utah Hospital, according to his obituary.

FBI agents and Uintah County search-and-rescue officers found the loaded shotgun in the river beneath the Randlett Bridge, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Sowsonicut was indicted in January 2017 by a federal grand jury on charges of second-degree murder and use and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence. Those charges are to be dismissed at the time of sentencing.

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