KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

A Montana man who raped and strangled a 4-year-old girl and then left her for dead will spend the next four decades in prison after he was sentenced Wednesday for his February 2016 crimes.

John William Lieba II chased down the child at night in a park on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Both Lieba and the victim are Native Americans and the Reservation, which has a population of roughly 10,000, is home to the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes. A jury convicted Lieba on counts of kidnapping a minor, aggravated sexual abuse and assault resulting in serious bodily injury on a minor. He was sentenced to 42 years in prison.

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The girl was found two days after being dumped by Lieba. A sheriff’s deputy noticed footprints of bare feet in mud behind a fertilizer plant and discovered the girl in a makeshift bed in the cab of a pickup truck. The officer reported finding her cold and dehydrated.

Officers and doctors who examined her found burst blood vessels on her head and neck, indications that Lieba had tried to strangle her.

The sexual assault injured the girl and infected her with an incurable sexually transmitted disease, said Dr. Cynthia Burrows of the Billings Clinic, who examined the girl and testified at Lieba’s April trial.

“The child will forever be reminded of this trauma,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Weldon wrote in a sentencing memo to U.S. District Judge Brian Morris. “The United States without hesitation recommends life in prison. Lieba, through his actions, forced every parent in Montana to confront their worst nightmare.”

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During the three-day trial, a 12-year-old girl testified that Lieba had also chased her at a playground in the town of Wolf Point at around on the night the child went missing, but she managed to escape.

Lieba’s attorney said his client had stopped taking his anti-psychotic medication prior to the kidnapping and that he had no recollection of the events that night. When Lieba was initially questioned, he replied “probably” when asked if the girl was dead, according to KRTV.


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