Two women suspected in the death of Mildred Old Crow sentenced to lesser crimes in tribal court

By 
Luella N. Brien
Thursday, April 15, 2021
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Photo by Luella N. Brien
Bureau of Indian Affairs Corrections officers watch as Roseen Lincoln-Old Crow (left) and Veronica Tierza Dust enter the courtroom in Crow Agency on Monday afternoon.
Article Image Alt Text
Photo by Luella N. Brien
Co-defendants Roseen Lincoln-Old Crow (back) and Veronica Tierza Dust listen as Crow Tribal Prosecutor David Sibley makes his closing arguments in a bench trial Monday where they both faced child endangerment and custodial interference charges.

Two women arrested in connection with disappearance and subsequent death of 8-year-old Mildred Alexis Old Crow were on Monday were found guilty of child endangerment and custodial interference and sentenced in Crow Tribal Court to 18 months in jail.

Roseen Lincoln-Old Crow, 34, and her co-defendant and wife Veronica Tierza Dust, 34, appeared without legal representation for a bench trial In Crow Tribal Court Monday afternoon before Crow Tribal Associate Judge Julie Yarlott in Crow Agency.

After a trial that lasted less than 50 minutes, Yarlott sentenced them each to 18 months in the Bureau of Indian Affairs Rocky Mountain Detention Center in Hardin and one year on probation upon their release. They were each given a $2,000 fine.

An FBI investigator testified that interviews with the defendants revealed Mildred Old Crow died in Hardin and her body was subsequently moved to an area on the Crow Indian Reservation.

“We started our investigation into a missing person, and we discovered the deceased body, which was, is, Mildred,” the investigator said on the witness stand.

Crow Tribal Prosecutor David Sibley asked how the investors where sure the body belonged to the missing child.

“We interviewed the guardians and they told us that was where Mildred was actually located and that she had died in Hardin,” the witness said.

Sibley didn’t press any further regarding the criminal investigation into the death of Mildred Old Crow.

In all he presented four witnesses to establish the defendants had not fulfilled their duty to care for and provide for the safety and welfare of Mildred Old Crow, who was placed in their care in March 2017 by the Crow Court.

A Victim/Witness Specialist with the Department of Justice, read an email exchange with a Billings School District employee that indicated the child was never enrolled in school since she was placed in the care of the defendants.

“This may seem like a relatively minor issue in terms of some things, but I will mention in the Crow code Endangering Welfare of Children, a parent or guardian or other person supervising the welfare of children less than 18 years old commits the offense of endangering the welfare of child if he or she knowingly endangers the child’s welfare by violating the duty of care, protection or support and the next sentence reads, ‘or if he or she knowingly fails to cause a child less than 18 years old to regularly attend school without legal justification,’ the code specifically mentions ‘enrolled in school’ because of its importance,” Sibley said in his closing argument.

One witness, a tribal social services caseworker, testified that when a home study was performed on the residence and background checks were performed on both Lincoln-Old Crow and Dust. The study, the caseworker said, determined that placing Millie Old Crow in the care of the defendants was appropriate and both would be held responsible for care of the child.

“Both Ms. Dust and Ms. Lincoln (Old Crow) were in the home, they were both subject to the background checks as part of placement prior to guardianship being granted, as such the duty of care applies to each of them and have both, therefore, violated,” Sibley said in his closing argument. “Specifically, their guardianship was not permanent, they were ordered to appear with Millie, and they didn’t show up. They interfered with the tribe’s obligation to the Indian child and the end result was horrific.”

The defendants did not cross-examine any witnesses, they did not enter any evidence into the court record, and they did not have any opening statement or closing arguments.

After Sibley presented his closing argument Dust spoke up.

“There’s nothing we can say that can justify what has happened, there’s a lot of truth to what the prosecutor is saying, but there is also a lot he does not know because it is an ongoing investigation and we are cooperating,” she said. “It did take some time because we were trying to find legal representation, which we could not find. We tried every county; we could not find a lawyer who would work with us. All we were trying to do was come forward with what really happened with a lawyer.”

Dust claimed Mildred was homeschooled. Though homeschool records are collected through a local school district home school coordinator, there was no clarification if the prosecution’s search of school records included homeschool records.

Dust also claimed she and Lincoln-Old Crow paid for a lawyer who stopped returning phone calls and did not show up for court. She also claimed he represented them in Big Horn County in January.

Big Horn County District Court records in show James Vogel represented them as a public defender, who is not the attorney discussed during the bench trial.

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