by Amanda Ong
In July of 2020, Maddesyn George, a 27-year-old Native mother and member of the Colville Confederated Tribes in Eastern Washington, was raped by a white man named Kristopher Graber. George had considered Graber a friend, but after refusing to let her leave his home, he allegedly assaulted her while taunting her with a gun. George fled the scene with Graber’s gun, a sugar-packet amount of methamphetamine, and some of his other possessions. The next morning, Graber came looking for George on the Colville Reservation in northeastern Washington. In front of several witnesses, Graber then attacked George. Terrified, she shot him with his gun. Graber died instantly.
This Wednesday, Nov. 17, is George’s sentencing hearing. She is being charged with voluntary manslaughter and drug possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. She will be heard by the U.S. District Court in Spokane. Because the shooting occurred on a reservation and falls under the Major Crimes Act, a law that dictates that certain crimes committed by Native people on Native territory fall under federal jurisdiction, George is being prosecuted on the federal level by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington.
According to George’s attorney, Steve Graham, George has already accepted a plea deal to avoid up to 45 years in prison. However, she still faces up to 17 years in federal prison in California, over 1,000 miles away from her 20-month-old daughter, Shynne. This potential sentence is despite federal advisory guidelines suggesting less than 11 years.
“She’s a very strong person, she doesn’t let people walk over her,” George’s mother, Jody George, said in an interview with the Emerald. “She knows you got to stick up for yourself, nobody else is gonna do it. And I know my mom raised me that way. And we’ve got all sisters and my grandma had all sisters and it’s a strong family of women. That is what we’ve come from, and she’s all about family.”
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