A federal jury on Wednesday convicted a Mandaree man on six of the seven counts stemming from a January chase that ended when he and a passenger abandoned a stolen vehicle in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
The jury deliberated less than two hours before finding Clancey Lone Fight, 33, guilty of domestic assault by a habitual offender, fleeing law officers, entering the park without paying, disorderly conduct, operating a vehicle outside of approved park roads, and unsafe operation of a motor vehicle.
Lone Fight spent one night in the park amid frigid conditions after he and companion Gabriella Perez-Goodbird separated. Perez-Goodbird spent two nights in the park and testified during the three-day trial that she suffered frostbite that will lead to the loss of her left foot.
Lone Fight showed no emotion as the verdict was read and looked down as U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland advised him of the steps that lie ahead. State court records show Lone Fight has a lengthy criminal history of assault, fleeing and reckless endangerment convictions, along with driving violations.
“You’ve been through this process before. It hasn’t changed much,” Hovland said.
Lone Fight as he was placed in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service gave a thumbs-up to his father, then smiled and waved to his mother and said “everything’s OK.”
The jury of six women and six men found him not guilty of assaulting Perez-Goodbird, 19 at the time, as the two walked through the park after leaving the pickup at an impassable road. It was a charge Lone Fight had denied and one on which he wanted to be heard, defense attorney William Skees said.
“There’s a large amount of vindication in beating that charge,” he told the Tribune.
It’s too early to know if Lone Fight will appeal the guilty verdicts, Skees said. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The guilty verdicts were a relief to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan O’Konek, who told the Tribune that the prosecution wanted justice for a victim who was left in the park for two days in subfreezing temperatures. Perez-Goodbird was not charged with any crimes in the case.
“We’re pleased with the jury’s verdict,” O’Konek said. “They came to the right conclusion.”
O’Konek during closing arguments said Perez-Goodbird’s testimony was corroborated piece by piece by 19 witnesses and through audio and video recordings. She testified that she was afraid to run away from Lone fight and feared he would become violent with her if she didn’t steal the pickup when he directed, the prosecutor said. She was injured when the pickup went off-road, asthmatic, and underdressed for the weather when they abandoned the pickup.
“What other possible choice did she have but to follow him?” O’Konek said.
Perez-Goodbird’s story “fit her narrative” -- a method of self-defense against prosecution, Skees told jurors. She stole the pickup and had opportunities to leave Lone Fight, he said, adding that even if she was scared “at some point common sense takes over more than fear.”
“She was along for the ride,” he said. “She was part of it.”
The two had time to switch drivers before getting to the park and nobody other than Perez-Goodbird testified that Lone Fight drove the pickup inside the park, Skees said. He gave her his jacket after they left the pickup, an act Skees said didn’t fit with her accusation that he punched her before the two separated.
Perez-Goodbird testified about the alleged punch on Tuesday. She said that after it occurred, she walked miles in search of a road and slept little during her time in the park, at times being awakened by nearby coyotes. She suffered frostbite that will cause her left foot to be amputated, she said.
She was wearing sneakers, thin sweat- or pajama-type pants, a hoodie and a light jacket when found, Chief Park Ranger Joshua Wentz said at the time. Wind chills dropped to the teens below zero while she was in the park.
Lone Fight spent the night of Jan. 25 in a cave and made his way to Interstate 94 the next day. He was arrested Jan. 27 at a Dickinson hospital when he sought medical attention for frostbite.
Hovland ordered a presentence investigation. Lone Fight’s sentencing likely will take place in October. A probation revocation hearing from a separate domestic violence case that was scheduled for next week will be delayed until the sentencing hearing.
Lone Fight also faces state felony charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle, reckless endangerment, fleeing police and reckless driving stemming from the incident. Court records don't list any upcoming hearings or a trial date.
Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com