FARGO, N.D. – A man convicted of stabbing to death two young children on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in North Dakota was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole.
A federal jury in September found Valentino "Tino" Bagola, 20, guilty of the May 2011 slayings of 9-year-old Destiny Shaw-Dubois and her 6-year-old brother, Travis DuBois Jr., of St. Michael. The victims were stabbed a total of 100 times, investigators said.
Authorities said Bagola stabbed the children to death after he sexually assaulted the girl because he was angry at their father but couldn't find him. Defense attorneys argued that children's father — who was interrogated by investigators but was never charged — was responsible.
U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson in Fargo sentenced Bagola on Monday to life in prison on each of two counts of first-degree murder.
"The life sentences imposed today cannot bring Destiny and Travis Jr. back or undo any of the horror of these criminal acts. It does, however, provide some measure of justice to these victims, their family, and the Spirit Lake Community. It was this commitment to obtaining justice for Destiny and Travis, Jr. that kept us going in the 14-month search-for-the-truth between the discovery of the bodies of these children and the Indictment in this case," U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon said in a news release.
Neil Fulton, federal public defender, said his office will talk to Bagola about the possibility of appealing to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
"That is his decision, but I would fully anticipate that he will want to appeal," Fulton said in an emailed statement.
The case was one of two high-profile indictments in recent years involving the deaths of children on the reservation. Last month, a Spirit Lake woman was sentenced to 30 years in prison for throwing a child down an embankment.
Defense attorneys spent much of the 13-day trial focusing on a confession from the children's father, Travis DuBois Sr. He later recanted.
Bagola was arrested more than a year later and also confessed to investigators.