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Associated Press , Published October 29 2013

Lawyer says government didn't prove Spirit Lake murder case

FARGO — The lawyer for a man convicted in the brutal killings of two children on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in North Dakota said his client should either be acquitted or granted a new trial.

Defense attorney Christopher Lancaster on Monday filed separate motions for Valentino "Tino" Bagola, 22, who is awaiting sentencing on two counts of felony murder. A federal jury in September found Bagola guilty for the May 2011 slayings of 9-year-old Destiny Jane Shaw-Dubois and her 6-year-old brother, Travis Lee DuBois Jr.

Authorities said the victims were stabled a total of 100 times.

Lancaster, a public defender, said that the government did not prove its case and that Bagola's confession was coerced by FBI agents with several "gotcha" moments. He said there was "overwhelming evidence" that the father of the children, Travis Dubois Sr., was responsible for the killings.

The jury, Lancaster said, was "swayed far more by conjecture, the emotions generated by the murders of two young children, and the need to hold someone accountable for the crimes" rather than the evidence.

U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon had no comment on the defense motions.

Bagola earlier this month filed court documents on his own asking to be released from prison because Lancaster did a poor job of defending him. Bagola said he should have had an evaluation to determine whether he was competent to stand trial and assist in his own defense.

That case has been a rallying cry for reform at Spirit Lake, where the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs took over the child protection system a year ago after complaints about rampant abuse of children.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 16. Bagola faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

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