Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Location of Crime Means No Death Penalty for Dad Accused of Sexually Assaulting, Killing Infant

Steven Deuman, police photo.

Michigan man Steven Deuman Jr. is charged with a capital offense: sexually assaulting and killing his 15-week-old daughter in August 2011. Usually, prosecutors would seek the death penalty in a first-degree murder case such as this, but because the alleged assault and killing took place on an Indian reservation, Deuman will not face execution if convicted. For that same reason, the case is being handled by Federal prosecutors. Under Federal law, tribal authorities have the right to decide whether to pursue the death penalty; unless a tribal governing body decides otherwise, Native Americans cannot be executed under the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994.

Deuman allegedly told a tribal police officer that the girl, identified in court documents as E.D., was asleep on his bed, but when he went to check on her, he found her unresponsive on the floor with a used condom in her mouth. He also allegedly told investigators that he may have killed E.D. but doesn’t remember, and that an “evil spirit” may have taken over him during that time. If convicted, Deuman faces a life sentence.

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