A 21-year-old man has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for killing a man on a tribal reservation and to two counts of assault on an officer for an attack on Davis County sheriff’s deputies.
Deland Cornpeach, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, entered the pleas Monday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. He originally was charged with second-degree murder in a June 20, 2017, incident on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Fort Duchesne.
In a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, Cornpeach admitted to manslaughter. The victim, Eli Ray Poowegup, 38, a member of the Ute Tribe, was killed by Cornpeach “without malice and upon a sudden quarrel,” according to the plea bargain. The manner of death was not disclosed.
On May 13, 2019, while being held at the Davis County Jail in Farmington, awaiting trial in the homicide case, Cornpeach assaulted two deputies, court records said.
The corrections officers were attempting to move Cornpeach from his cell to a higher security pod. A sheriff’s probable cause statement said Cornpeach lunged out of his cell when the door opened and repeatedly punched the two deputies.
Cornpeach kept battling the officers until backup arrived and he could be subdued, the statement said.
According to the plea bargain, Cornpeach agreed to serve 84 months in federal prison. He is to be sentenced April. 13.
The defendant’s mental competency to stand trial was reviewed in both the Fort Duchesne slaying and the Davis jail assault. He was deemed competent after the court-ordered evaluations.
The federal proceeding also was delayed after Cornpeach repeatedly demanded that his federal public defender attorneys be replaced.
Cornpeach later was moved to the Salt Lake County Jail. Federal pretrial detainees are in the custody of the U.S. Marshals’ Service, which contracts with county jails to hold inmates.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office charged Cornpeach with third-degree felony assault by a prisoner for attacks against fellow inmates on April 10, 2020, and Jan. 17 of this year.
An organized crime prosecutor wrote in court documents that Cornpeach is a documented gang member with a violent criminal history in juvenile court.