Thomas Edward Mancha was sentenced in federal court in Great Falls on Thursday after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for the death of his wife.
Judge Brian Morris sentenced Mancha to a term of 240 months (20 years) with the federal Bureau of Prisons, followed by five years of supervised release.
Mancha, 61 years old, was originally facing a charge of first-degree murder under the indictment, but reached a plea agreement to a charge of second-degree murder.
According to court documents, in December 2016, Mancha learned that his wife was planning to divorce him because she was tired of his physical and verbal abuse. On January 1, 2017, Mancha was alone with his wife at the Lewis & Clark Camp Disappointment Monument, along the north side of U.S. Highway 2, about 12 miles east of Browning.
A witness arrived at the scene and saw Mancha holding his wife by the hair or shirt collar. The witness said it appeared that Mancha was assaulting her. During the assault, the victim broke free from Mancha’s grip and tried to run away. Mancha then got behind the wheel of a pick-up truck and drove over her as she ran away. Mancha then turned around and dove over the victim’s body a second time. Mancha fled the scene in the truck. A short time later, he drove in front of an oncoming train, resulting in injuries to his head and spine. Mancha was transported to the Indian Health Service Clinic.
A sentencing memorandum on behalf of the prosecution states:
Mancha killed his wife by running her over with a vehicle on New Year’s Day, 2017. To ensure she was dead, he turned around and ran her over a second time, causing her spinal column to separate from her skull at the neck. With a history of substance abuse, violent behavior, and drug dealing, he has been a drain on the Blackfeet community for more than three decades. At 61 years of age, he has demonstrated no inclination or ability to ever become a productive member of society.
A sentencing memorandum on behalf of Mancha states:
Mr. Mancha accepts full responsibility for his actions. This is a most unfortunate case where the victim was loved by many, the Defendant included. He understands the ripple effect his actions caused as many in the community mourn her loss. Mr. Mancha wishes he could trade places with his late wife. Every day he wakes up in his cell to the nightmare he paced himself in. He thinks about suicide every day. This is the prison that Mr. Mancha has sentenced upon himself.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, Mancha will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, Mancha will have the opportunity to shorten the term of custody by earning credit for good behavior. However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.
U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said in a press release, “We are pleased with the court’s sentence today, and our sympathies go out to the victim’s family and the Blackfeet tribal community for their loss. I also want to thank all of the people who helped successfully prosecute this case, including AUSA Jeff Starnes, the FBI agents and BIA law enforcement officers who worked on this case, and the victim and witness staff members from our respective offices.”
(JANUARY 25, 2017) Thomas Edward Mancha has been charged with murder for the death of his wife Charlene Mancha.
Court documents state that Thomas deliberately hit the woman with a pickup truck on January 1st, 2017.
According to the charging documents, Thomas "used a silver, four-door, Dodge Ram truck to kill his wife, Charlene Mancha...near a monument, which is located near US Highway 2, within the exterior boundaries of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. "
The location was Camp Disappointment, between Browning and Cut Bank.
An autopsy was conducted on Jan. 3 and the pathologist's initial assessment was that Charlene died from massive internal injuries consistent with being run over by a vehicle.
A witness told investigators that he had gone to the monument area to use drugs and drink beer with his cousin. When the witness arrived at the monument he discovered that Thomas and Charlene Mancha were there.
The witness knew Thomas Mancha and saw that he had the woman by her hair. According to the witness, the woman called to him for help and the witness yelled that he was going to call the police.
As the witness was calling the police he saw Mancha get into a silver truck and run over the woman.
Thomas Mancha then turned around and drove his truck over the woman a second time, according to the witness.
The witness drove away from the monument area and headed west toward Browning. He told investigators that Mancha followed in his pickup truck.
When they reached a turnoff for Blackfoot, the witness continued toward Browning, but saw Thomas Mancha turn toward Blackfoot.
Court documents allege that after turning into the Blackfoot area from US Highway 2, Thomas Mancha drove the truck in front of an oncoming train. Investigators said the truck appeared to have been hit by the front of the train and was "largely destroyed."
Court documents state the investigator believed that Thomas Mancha intended to commit suicide by driving the vehicle in front of the train.
Thomas Mancha suffered several injuries in the collision and was treated at the Indian Health Services Emergency Department in Browning and then taken to Benefis Health System in Great Falls.