Martell sentenced in murder of Richard Red Dog 4-19-07

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - A Poplar man convicted of murder in a case where the victim's body hasn't been found was sentenced Thursday to life in prison.

Jordan Martell, 23, was convicted in December of instigating a fight in which Richard Red Dog was beaten and stabbed to death on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in December 2003.

U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon also ordered Martell to pay $7,952 in restitution.

During the two day trial, witnesses testified that on the night of Dec. 12, 2003, Red Dog drove around the back roads near the Missouri River with Martell, the defendant's sister, Trista Martell and Jittawee Bear Cub. The group admitted to drinking alcohol, taking prescription pills and smoking marijuana.

Prosecutors said two fights occurred during the evening, with the second one turning deadly.

Prosecutor Joe Thaggard told the jury the murder weapons - a baseball bat, a chain with an attached padlock and a knife - all belonged to Martell. The defendant also gave a written statement that said he instigated the fight. His statement said that as Red Dog lay on the ground, Martell told Bear Cub - who was allegedly beating Red Dog with a chain - that the two “couldn't let him go” alive and handed him a knife.

Prosecutors allege Red Dog was hit with a baseball bat, beat with the chain and padlock and stabbed as many as 20 times before being tossed into the mostly frozen over Missouri River. Searchers were unable to find Red Dog's body, but did find his ripped jacket and a sweat shirt.

Trista Martell testified that she saw Bear Cub stab Red Dog “a lot” and admitted to hitting Red Dog with a bat.

Bear Cub is also charged with first degree murder and is awaiting trial. Trista Martel has not been charged in the case.