PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — A Pendleton man was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to a fatal stabbing behind the Round-Up Grounds last fall.
The state dropped a murder charge against Waylon Speedis in exchange for his guilty plea on manslaughter and riot charges.
Umatilla County District Attorney Dean Gushwa said two groups with a history of bad blood confronted each other Sept. 13. Name calling behind the rodeo grounds escalated to rock throwing and then one-on-one fighting. That's when Speedis stuck a knife into the heart of Manuel Nomee, killing the 23-year-old father of three.
A Pendleton home was firebombed last year as payback for Nomee's death, and courthouse security was heightened at Tuesday's sentencing.
Manuel Nomee's mother, Lillian Nomee, and his girlfriend, Belisa Dawn Ganuelas, sat in the front row of the gallery behind the prosecution. A contingent of about 20 supporters filled in around and behind them.
Lillian Nomee addressed the court, blaming Speedis' mother for not raising him in an American Indian lifestyle that eschews gangs.
"Your mother never took you to the river," Nomee said, trying to keep her voice steady. "She never took you to pick huckleberries. ... She took 15 years of your life."
Speedis declined to make a statement when asked by Judge Charles Luukinen.
Luukinen lamented the role gangs or perceived gangs played in the killing. Nearly everyone in attendance was connected to American Indian heritage, the judge said, and that heritage should be enough for them to find a sense of community and pride. He said Lillian Nomee perhaps put it best: "Indian kids should just be Indian kids."
As deputies walked Speedis from the courtroom, his mother said, "Son," and he turned to look at her briefly. Several people sitting behind Lillian Nomee called Speedis names and mocked him. He shuffled on and showed indifference.
Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.info
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press