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United States v. Rainbow

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 19, 2016

United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Christopher Kobe Rainbow Defendant-Appellant United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Jordan Rainbow Defendant-Appellant

Submitted: December 17, 2015

Appeals from United States District Court for the District of North Dakota - Bismarck

Before WOLLMAN, BRIGHT, and LOKEN, Circuit Judges.

WOLLMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

Christopher Rainbow (Christopher) and Jordan Rainbow (Jordan) were found guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury, both in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 113, and 1153. On appeal, they argue that the district court[1] erred in admitting into evidence certifications of Indian blood and in denying their requests to instruct the jury on lesser-included offenses. Jordan also argues that the district court erred in asking certain questions of a doctor who treated the victim and that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. We affirm.

I. Background

Late in the evening on April 20, 2014, two groups of friends gathered at the Diamond Z bar in Fort Yates, North Dakota. Sophia Bear Stops (Sophia) went to the bar with her cousins, Robyn Weddell (Robyn), Cheyenne Weddell (Cheyenne), and Robert Weddell (Robert). While there, they spoke to Jordan, Christopher, and Christopher's wife, Angelica Rainbow (Angelica). When the bar closed, they decided to go to Robyn's trailer to continue drinking alcohol. Robyn bought a bottle of rum and Christopher, Jordan, and Angelica bought a bottle of tequila. The two groups drove separately to the trailer, where they sat in their cars, talked, listened to music, and passed around the bottles of alcohol.

All was apparently going well until Ethan Agard (Ethan) arrived and walked over to Cheyenne and Robert. Ethan was intoxicated, slurring his speech and stumbling. Christopher exited his vehicle and approached Ethan. The two began fighting almost immediately, and Ethan was soon on the ground. Cheyenne and Robert testified that when they tried to break up the fight, they instead scuffled with Christopher and Jordan. Christopher soon ran across the street and pulled a metal downspout off a building.

Cheyenne ran away when he saw Christopher coming toward him with the downspout. Cheyenne hid in the weeds behind the trailer, and although he could not see what happened next, he heard Sophia screaming. In the meantime, Robert was struck with the downspout and started running down the street. When he turned and looked back toward the trailer, he saw Christopher strike Sophia in the face with the downspout.

According to Robyn, she and Angelica stood on the street while the men fought. Robyn saw Christopher run across the street and pull down the downspout. Thereafter, Robyn ran to the back of her trailer, where she did not go inside but instead returned to help the screaming Sophia.

Sophia testified that after Christopher saw her standing by the side of the trailer, she froze. Christopher ran toward her, holding the downspout with both hands. He struck Sophia in the face with the downspout, causing her to fall to the ground. Sophia then saw Christopher standing above her and Jordan running toward her. She heard Christopher say, "Let's kill this little bitch, " whereupon both Christopher and Jordan began beating her. When she began screaming for help, they told her to shut up and continued to hit her. Sophia believed that Jordan had something in his hand, but she was unable to tell what it was as she tried to block her face and body from the blows. Sophia testified that she could feel "multiple hits at a time" and that she "kn[ew] it was not coming from just one person."

Robyn testified that she saw Christopher and Jordan hitting Sophia. "Chris had that white drain pipe, and I just seen Jordan hitting her. I don't know if he had a weapon or not. I just seen them both really hitting her, and she was just screaming my name." Eventually, Robyn was able to move the blood-covered Sophia to safety. Robyn, Cheyenne, and another person placed Sophia in the back of Cheyenne's vehicle, which was covered with glass from a shattered windshield.

Angelica had a different recollection of the assault. According to her, as Christopher and Jordan were leaving, Cheyenne tackled Christopher from behind. Jordan tried to intervene, but was attacked by Robert and Ethan, with Robyn joining in the fight. Sophia had grabbed Angelica's hair and called for Robyn, saying, "Bobby, let's get this bitch." Sophia and Angelica fell to the ground, whereupon Robyn ran over and kicked Sophia in the head three times. Angelica testified that Robyn looked surprised when she realized that she had kicked Sophia-not Angelica-and that Robyn then threatened to kick Angelica. By then, according to Angelica, the men had stopped fighting. Angelica testified that Christopher and Jordan did not hit or otherwise injure Sophia and that Sophia's injuries were caused by Robyn.

Sophia was later transported by ambulance to a hospital in Bismarck, North Dakota, where she was treated in an emergency room during the early morning hours of April 21, 2014. Her face was cut, she was badly bruised, and she complained of abdominal and back pain. The lacerations on her face required nineteen stitches: four on her lip, six on her nose, and nine on her left nostril. In the days that followed, Sophia experienced severe pain and remained in bed for more than one week.

Christopher and Jordan were charged with assault with intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, and assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Each count charged that Christopher and Jordan "individually, and by aiding and abetting, did assault Sophi[a] Bear Stops." For conviction on any of the counts, the government was required to prove that Christopher and ...


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