Thursday, 23 June 2011
A federal jury sitting in Bryson City found an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians guilty of fatally shooting Erien Amanda Smith on the reservation on May 18, 2010, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
In a superseding criminal indictment filed on December 7, 2010, James Ernest Lespier, 33, of Cherokee, was charged with one count of first degree murder and one count of use of and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. After an eight-day trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict on both counts.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins was assisted in the case by Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Charlotte Division, and Ben Reed, Chief of the Cherokee Indian Police Department.