Published On: Fri, May 21st, 2010
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Lespier charged in Rough Branch Murder

ONE FEATHER STAFF REPORT

James Ernest Lespier, 31, of Cherokee, has been arrested and charged with murder in the May 18 shooting death of 22-year-old Erien Amanda Smith according to a Criminal Complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, May 20.  According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, if Lespier is convicted he faces up to life in prison. 

Lespier made his initial court appearance on Thursday and under federal law, a probable cause hearing will be scheduled within 10 days of his arrest.

According to federal documents filed with the Criminal Complaint, Lespier called Cherokee Indian Police Dispatch at 1:18am on Tuesday, May 18 and said repeatedly “Mandy is dead.”  The shooting occurred at the home of Lespier and the victim on J. Crowe Road in the Rough Branch Housing area of the Wolfetown Community.   

 Only Lespier, the victim and their son were in the house at the time of the shooting.  A get-together had been held, but everyone had left by that time. 

Federal documents state, “Lespier made voluntary verbal statements to the responding officers that the female victim had been shooting at him.  He stated that he struggled with her to attempt to get the gun away from her, causing the firearm to discharge.” 

An autopsy was performed on Wednesday, May 19 at Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva.  “The medical examiner concluded that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the back of the head/neck.” 

A .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver was found underneath the victim’s left leg. 

The medical examiner’s conclusion was that the gunshot wound was not consistent with Lespier’s version.      

The U.S. Attorney’s Office stated that Don Gast, Assistant U.S. Attorney, will prosecute the case against Lespier. 

Read the Criminal Complaint and attached avidavit here: Lespier Complaint

Note:  The public is reminded that  a criminal complaint contains mere allegations and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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