A federal judge in Durango has sentenced David Sidney Wells, 44, of Towaoc, to 30 years in federal prison for assaulting his wife on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation.
Wells was indicted April 5, 2019, by a federal grand jury. After a trial in February, he was found guilty of aggravated sexual abuse, assault with the intent to commit aggravated sexual abuse, assault resulting in serious bodily injury and assault with a dangerous weapon.
Wells was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn. The sentence is followed by 10 years supervised release.
According to court documents, Wells assaulted his wife at their Towaoc residence, repeatedly striking her with a wooden club and kicking her in the stomach. Wells then committed sexual assault before choking her to unconsciousness and fleeing the scene.
His wife was medically evacuated by airplane to a hospital in Lakewood. At trial, an expert testified that she could have died because of internal bleeding.
The case was investigated by the FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs. The defendant was prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeff Graves and R. Josh Player.
“The brutality of Mr. Wells’ assault is almost unimaginable,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “But with this sentence, it is all but certain that Mr. Wells’ legacy of violent abuse has come to an end.”
Wells has more than a dozen prior convictions for assaultive conduct, including assaulting his current wife, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
At the time of the assault, Wells had a Colorado arrest warrant for suspected second-degree assault for allegedly choking his wife in a Cortez park in August 2018.
Wells will serve the federal sentence consecutively with the four-year sentence imposed in the earlier case in the 22nd Judicial District Court in Montezuma County. After the jury’s verdict, Wells violated a court-imposed no-contact order by writing a seven-page letter to his wife.
Wells also had a history of domestic violence convictions in Tribal Court.
According to a 2016 National Institute of Justice study, Native American women suffer violence at a higher rate than non-Native women. Study results show that 84.3% of Native American and Alaska Native women have experienced violence, compared with 71% of white women.
The study shows that nationwide, Native American women face a murder rate 10 times higher than the national average.
In 2018, the Department of Justice awarded $113 million in grants to tribes to improve public safety in Indian Country.
The Ute Mountain Ute tribe has been awarded a $1.6 million. Of that amount, $898,918 is for public safety and community policing, and $748,013 for justice systems and alcohol and substance abuse.
Resources for domestic violenceThe Renew Inc. Domestic and Sexual Violence hotline is (970) 565-2100.Stronghearts Native Helpline is 1-844-762-8483.National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center at www.niwrc.org/