Sentencing set for Dakota Access protester in shooting

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Sentencing set for Dakota Access protester in shooting
FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2017, file photo, Red Fawn Fallis, of Denver, stands outside the federal courthouse in Bismarck, N.D. A federal judge on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, scheduled a May 31 sentencing for Fallis, who pleaded guilty in a shooting during protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. She could face up to 15 years in prison. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A judge has scheduled a spring sentencing for a Denver woman who pleaded guilty in a shooting during protests in North Dakota against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, but he’s still weighing whether to let her out of jail in the meantime.

Attorneys for Red Fawn Fallis argue in recent court documents that aside from one slip-up, she’s been an “exemplary” resident at a Fargo halfway house for three months and should be allowed to return there until her punishment is handed down.

Fallis, 38, was accused of firing a handgun at officers three times during her October 2016 arrest. No one was hurt. She pleaded guilty Jan. 22 to civil disorder and gun possession by a convicted felon. Prosecutors agreed to drop at sentencing a more serious count of discharge of a firearm during a felony crime of violence.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland has scheduled sentencing for May 31 in Bismarck.

Fallis was moved from jail to the halfway house in October, but she was arrested this month for violating conditions of her release when she signed out of the facility to attend adult learning classes but never showed up. She apologized during her plea hearing.

Prosecutors aren’t objecting to returning Fallis to the halfway house provided she’s placed on electronic monitoring, which her attorneys say would be an acceptable requirement.

Her attorneys also note that Fallis has been granted furloughs three times in the past year for various reasons; that she voluntarily returned to the halfway house the day she disappeared; and that she has taken steps to better herself. including working toward a high school equivalency diploma and working at a food bank.

Prosecutors have agreed to recommend a prison sentence of no more than seven years, though Hovland could go as high as 15 years.

Fallis’ arrest was among 761 that authorities made in southern North Dakota during the height of protests in 2016 and 2017. At times thousands of pipeline opponents gathered in the region to protest the .8 billion project to move North Dakota oil to Illinois.

The pipeline has been operating since June. Opponents fear environmental harm, and four Native American tribes in the Dakotas are still fighting it in court. Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners says it’s safe.

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