GREAT FALLS — A Box Elder man admitted to allegations in federal court in Great Falls on Dec. 1, 2021, that he tried to murder another man by shooting him on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation in 2019.
U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said in a news release that Dakota Houle, 25, pleaded guilty 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.
The government 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 to lure "John Doe" to the residence.
Shortly after Doe arrived, Houle and 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 gunpoint 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 lifethreatening 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 faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release on the crime of assault with intent to commit murder and a mandatory 10 years to life in prison, consecutive to any other term of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and five years of supervised release on the firearms crime.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris presided and scheduled sentencing for April 6, 2022. Houle remains jailed pending further proceedings.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jared C. Cobell and Lori Harper Suek are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by Chippewa Cree Law Enforcement Services and the FBI.
Houle maintained his plea of not guilty to a charge of kidnapping and is pending trial on that crime.