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Prosecutor charges man in Belcourt, N.D., death

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BELCOURT, N.D. -- A Belcourt man has been charged in tribal court in connection with the Nov. 27 death of Joel Sherman, 29, at the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation.

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William Marcellais, the tribe’s chief prosecutor, said Justin Keplin, 31, was arraigned Monday on a count of reckless endangerment and a count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury or death.

The charges are Class 4 offenses, the most serious under the tribal law, Marcellais said.

Federal officials say they continue their investigation into Sherman’s death and that federal charges, which are more serious than tribal charges, could result.

Sherman was found dead in a Belcourt home early Nov. 27, sparking lockdowns at schools and hospitals in the region.

Law enforcement agencies across the state were asked by the tribe to be on the lookout for two suspects. Keplin is one of them. The other suspect turned himself in Nov. 27 but apparently was not held.

Keplin remains in custody in Belcourt and will appear this week for a bond hearing, Marcellais said.

No details about Sherman’s death have been officially released, but law enforcement sources in the region said last week that he died of a gunshot.

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