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Published February 19, 2014, 02:52 PM

U.S. attorney: Deadly shots in Belcourt fired in self-defense

Nobody will be charged with homicide in the shooting death of a Belcourt, N.D., man in November at a house in Belcourt, U.S. attorney for North Dakota Tim Purdon said today.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

Nobody will be charged with homicide in the shooting death of a Belcourt, N.D., man in November at a house in Belcourt, U.S. attorney for North Dakota Tim Purdon said today.

Joel Sherman, 29, was killed by gunfire Nov. 27 at a residence in Belcourt, N.D., sparking a lock-down at area schools and a search for two men.

But the federal investigation found that Sherman had threatened another man and entered the residence and fired more than once before others shot back, killing him, Purdon said.

In December, William Marcellais, chief prosecutor for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, charged Justin Keplin, 31, with reckless endangerment and assault leading to death in the shooting.

Those charges are the most serious that can be brought by tribal court.

Keplin and his brother were the two men searched for in the first days after Sherman was killed. Keplin's brother was not charged in the incident by tribal or federal officials.

Federal prosecutors investigate homicides on Indian reservations.

In this case, Purdon said the investigation clearly showed Sherman began a gunfight and the shots that killed Sherman were fired in self-defense.

The investigation into the case remains open but no homicide-related charges will be filed, he said.

His office is committed to ensuring public safety on the Indian reservations in the state, including doing a thorough investigation into what led up to Sherman being shot to death, he said.

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