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Man accused of beating North Dakotan to death will plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter

Sean Michael Schroeder

BELCOURT, N.D. -- A member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians will admit next month to causing the death of a Dunseith, N.D., man last year, court documents indicate.

Sean Michael Schroeder, 28, is expected to plead guilty on Feb. 23 to voluntary manslaughter. He initially was charged with murder in the U.S. District Court of North Dakota for the death of 43-year-old Chad Warren. In exchange for signing a plea agreement in late November, the charge was downgraded and Schroeder now faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Emergency staff responded on May 12, 2017, to 4017 BIA Road 10 on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, or about 4 miles west of Belcourt, where they found Warren outside, unconscious and bleeding from his head, according to court documents. He was airlifted to Trinity Hospital in Minot, where he died the next day.

An autopsy revealed Warren died from blunt force injuries to his head and neck, court documents stated. A witness whose name was not revealed in court documents told investigators she saw Schroeder dragging Warren’s body from inside the residence at the crime scene to outside the home.

“The witness stated that she saw the defendant jumping on Warren’s head and kicking Warren’s head, and she believes Warren was unconscious as it happened,” court documents said.

Schroeder was arrested May 12. He said Warren hit him, but he could not remember anything that happened between Warren’s alleged assault and being arrested, investigators said in court documents.

The plea agreement calls for a sentence no longer than 14 years, though the court could call for an upward departure.

Schroeder was booked Friday evening, Jan. 26, into the Grand Forks County Correctional Center.

Belcourt is about 80 miles northwest of Devils Lake.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248