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A Brockton man accused of fatally stabbing a man to death last month in Poplar has a criminal past that includes the slaying of another man six years ago who died from a stab wound.

Harold Dean Dupree Jr., 24, was arrested June 29 by the FBI, 10 days after the body of 23-year-old Ira Daryl Diaz DeLeon was found in a residential area of the small town on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Federal prosecutors are seeking an indictment charging Dupree with second-degree murder.

Dupree is being held in the Cascade County Jail in Great Falls until he is formally charged. He made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court on July 5 where he was ordered held without bond.

In an affidavit filed by the FBI, investigators say DeLeon was stabbed 13 times, with seven of the wounds potentially fatal. Several of the wounds penetrated his heart, lungs and bowel. His body was found on a road in a residential area.

Later that day, investigators from the Fort Peck Tribe and FBI interviewed Dupree and his roommate, Jordan Martell. Dupree denied that he was with DeLeon the night of the slaying and said he did not know him. But Martell gave a different story.

Martell said he was with DeLeon and Dupree at about midnight. He said a group of male juveniles approached them as they were walking, and one of the juveniles suddenly stabbed DeLeon. Martell said he and Dupree ran away when DeLeon was stabbed.

When confronted with Martell’s version of the stabbing several days later, Dupree also said a group of juveniles had approached them, and DeLeon was stabbed by a member of the group. He said he did not tell investigators about the juveniles before because he was afraid.

On June 28, Martell changed his story again.

“Martell provided a statement that he lied in his previous statements because he is afraid that Harold Dean Dupree Jr., who was living in the same household as Martell, would kill him if he told the truth,” according to the affidavit.

Martell said he was walking with Dupree and DeLeon when he “suddenly heard DeLeon scream.” He saw Dupree repeatedly strike DeLeon, then turn and run. Dupree caught up with him, and the two continued walking until they reached their home, Martell said.

Confronted with the new version of DeLeon’s death, Dupree initially stuck with the story that the stabbing was committed by an unknown juvenile male. He then told investigators that Martell stabbed DeLeon, according the affidavit.

When asked if he had planned the killing or acted on impulse, “Dupree replied that it must have been that.” He declined to comment further when the investigator said it sounded like he had just confessed.

Dupree was arrested after the interview. A motive for the stabbing remains unclear, but a review of federal court records shows Dupree has a violent past.

In 1995, Dupree pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for the stabbing death of 23-year-old Jonathan Walking Eagle. Federal prosecutors initially charged Dupree with second-degree murder but agreed to the lesser charge based on evidence that Walking Eagle may have initiated the conflict.

Dupree was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison. He was released in 1998, but was twice returned to prison for violating conditions of his parole — including using a knife to threaten several women — before his arrest last month in the death of DeLeon.

According to court records and news accounts, here’s what happened the first time Dupree was charged with murder:

On March 25, 1995, Dupree was in a bedroom of a home in Poplar using a kitchen knife to untangle fishing line. Walking Eagle, a friend of Dupree who lived at the same home, came into the bedroom and asked if Dupree wanted to go for a walk. Dupree said later that Walking Eagle was drunk, and the larger man was known to have a temper when he had been drinking.

Dupree at first agreed to go on the walk, then changed his mind when he realized that his girlfriend might call while he was away. Dupree’s change of heart apparently enraged the drunken Walking Eagle, who began to beat and kick him. Walking Eagle blocked the door when Dupree tried to escape.

Dupree reached for the knife that he had been using on the fishing line. When Walking Eagle came at him again, Dupree thrust the knife into the man’s chest. The knife plunged 6 or 7 inches into Walking Eagle, fracturing a rib and penetrating a lung. He died a few minutes later as Dupree ran from the home in search of help.

Dupree was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

At a sentencing hearing in Billings before U.S. District Court Judge Jack Shanstrom on Dec. 15, 1995, Dupree’s public defender said Dupree acted in self-defense when he stabbed Walking Eagle. Attorney Tim Cavan said it was Walking Eagle’s “senseless and criminal attack” on Dupree that led to his death.

Cavan asked the judge to depart downward from the 41-to-51-month guideline range for voluntary manslaughter and adopt the 10-to-16-month range for the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Klaus Richter said Walking Eagle also suffered a defensive wound on his arm and was too drunk to “pose any danger whatsoever.” An autopsy determined that Walking Eagle had a blood-alcohol content of 0.44 percent, nearly five times the legal limit of 0.08.

Shanstrom refused the defense request for a downward departure, commenting that he had never heard of someone at that high level of intoxication being able to walk around. The judge also said Dupree had a number of previous arrests for assaults and domestic violence but no convictions.

“You are not necessarily a stranger to any fights or violence,” Shanstrom told the 19-year-old before sentencing him to the minimum of 41 months under the guidelines for voluntary manslaughter.

Despite serving slightly more than three years in a federal prison, Dupree’s run-ins with law enforcement were far from over.

Dupree was released from prison on May 22, 1998, and placed on supervised release. On July 24, 1998, the day after his 22nd birthday and only two months after walking free, Dupree was arrested for assault by the Fort Peck Tribal Police.

Court records say a tribal officer was flagged down by several women screaming for help on Ferry Boat Road at 5 a.m. The women, including Dupree’s girlfriend, said they had just been assaulted and identified Dupree as the attacker. He was arrested and a butterfly knife stained with blood was found in his pocket.

The women later told police they were with Dupree in a car when he and his girlfriend began to argue. One of the women tried to intervene and was hit in the face and kicked by Dupree. The group got out of the car and two other women tried to intervene as Dupree assaulted their friend. They said Dupree then pulled a knife and hit them with the handle. One woman suffered a 2-inch gash on the bridge of her nose that required stitches.

A week later, Shanstrom sentenced Dupree to seven months in prison for violating his parole. The judge also ordered Dupree to participate in substance abuse treatment and mental health and anger management therapy.

A year later, in August 1999, Dupree was again before a federal judge. This time, Dupree was charged with disorderly conduct for wielding a bat against his father. Dupree pleaded guilty to two counts of violating his parole and Shanstrom sent him back to prison for six more months.Greg Tuttle can be reached at 657-1320 or at gtuttle@billingsgazette.com

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