NewsCrime and Courts


Box Elder man sentenced for shooting a man in the head

Dakota Black Elk Houle
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Posted at 1:35 PM, Apr 06, 2022

GREAT FALLS — Dakota Black Elk Houle of Box Elder, who admitted shooting a man in the back of the head in an attempt to kill him, was sentenced in federal court in Great Falls on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.

Prosecutors alleged in court documents that on March 17, 2019 in Box Elder, Houle, another man ("Male 1"), and two women were at a residence. A Facebook messenger account was used lure "John Doe" to the residence.

Shortly after Doe arrived, Houle and the Male 1 attacked and beat Doe, robbed him, and threatened to kill him. Male 1 told Doe that they were going to take him “for a ride in the mountains.” Everyone present, including Doe, understood that meant they were going to take Doe to the mountains to kill him.

Doe was forced at gun-point into the front-passenger seat of his own car, while Houle sat in the rear passenger-side seat with a shotgun behind Doe. The two females were passengers.

Male 1 drove the car toward the mountains as Doe pleaded for his life. Doe reached over and jerked the steering wheel, causing the car to go into a ditch.

Doe jumped out and attempted to escape. Male 1 shouted at Houle that Doe was “getting away” and to “shoot” him.

Houle got out of the car and shot Doe, intending to kill him. Houle, Male 1, and the two women ran away.

Doe sustained serious life-threatening injuries and has permanent damage as a result of the shooting.

Court documents state:

As a result of the shooting, John Doe suffered extremely serious life-threatening injuries and he has permanent brain damage, memory loss, and scarring. Doe was hospitalized for weeks and has had several surgeries and continues will follow-up care related to his injuries. Doe still has shotgun pellets lodged in his skull that are too dangerous for medical professionals to remove.

Houle, 26 years old, pleaded guilty in December 2021 to assault with intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault resulting in serious bodily injury, and use of a firearm during a crime of violence.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris sentenced Houle to 14 years and two months in prison, be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a news release.