A 27-year-old man died in jail Monday while awaiting sentencing for the murder of his ex-girlfriend on the Crow Indian Reservation last year, and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montana is seeking to dismiss the case against him.
In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced that it had been notified earlier in the day that Taylor Leigh Plain Bull died while in custody in Big Horn County, Wyoming.
Plain Bull had been facing up to life in prison after he admitted to killing 26-year-old Lenita Goes Ahead in October 2020 in an area along Blue Creek Road south of Billings on the Crow Indian Reservation.
The statement issued Tuesday was on behalf of Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana Leif Johnson.
After admitting to second-degree murder and pleading guilty in early March, Plain Bull was being held in the Big Horn County Jail in Wyoming. Plain Bull also admitted to use of a firearm during a crime of violence.
Plain Bull died Monday in the Big Horn County Jail, according to a press release issued early Tuesday evening by Big Horn County Sheriff Kenneth Blackburn.
He was found unresponsive in his cell and "unsuccessful efforts were made by detention deputies and medical personnel to revive Plain Bull," the sheriff wrote.
"Foul play is not suspected, however investigators with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) were immediately contacted to conduct an independent investigation of the death," Blackburn wrote, adding that his office is fully cooperating with DCI investigators.
According to federal prosecutors Plain Bull had passed Goes Ahead south of Billings on his way to Pryor in a stolen truck when he turned around and chased her, eventually forcing her car into a ditch where it got stuck in the snow.
Goes Ahead had been in the car with her boyfriend and her and Plain Bull's 6-year-old daughter when Plain Bull shot out the windshield and then shot Goes Ahead before driving away with his daughter.
Plain Bull’s “version of what happened,” prosecutors wrote in their offer of proof, is that Goes Ahead accidentally drove into the ditch while attempting to pull over because she knew he was going to give her money.
When Goes Ahead’s boyfriend “started giving him grief,” he tried to pistol whip him but the gun fired instead, according to the government’s offer of proof.
Plain Bull was arrested a few days later by the Billings Police Department after a roughly six hour standoff overnight in Billings at the Rodeway Inn. Police at the time had said the standoff involved a barricaded gunman.
Plain Bull's sentencing had been set for July.
Lenita Goes Ahead's father Carlson "Duke" Goes Ahead issued a statement two days after Plain Bull's arrest in which he forgave him. At the time Goes Ahead was the vice chairman of the Crow Tribe.
“That choice is whether to be bitter, hateful and resentful or display God’s grace during a troubling time,” he wrote. “We, her immediate family, wish to honor Lenita Rene’ Goes Ahead with a story of forgiveness and God’s love and mercy.”
Later on in the letter, Goes Ahead had called Plain Bull's actions "senseless" but said it was not for him to judge.
“Though I do not condone his actions in any way, it is not my place to judge,” he wrote. “Only God knows his heart. Furthermore, in no way does it make our situation better to make public negative statements toward Taylor and/or his family. We are all hurting and need to grieve in our own private way.”