A Tokio, N.D., man accused of murdering his 5-year-old foster child pleaded not guilty to five associated charges in federal court on Monday afternoon, June 29.
Erich Longie Jr., 42, faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted of murdering Raven Thompson, 5, who was in the care of Erich and Tammy Longie, 45, until her death on May 6. The indictment alleges that Raven was killed with malice aforethought as part of a pattern of assault. Erich also faces a maximum fine of $250,000 for the first degree murder charge.
He also faces three counts of child abuse in Indian Country, which each carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison with a maximum fine of $250,000 if convicted, and one count of child neglect in Indian Country, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, if convicted.
Tammy, who was arraigned on Wednesday, June 24, faces identical charges.
In addition to Raven, three other children are identified as victims of abuse in the indictment, including her brother Zane Thompson, 7, who was also in the Longies' care. The other two children, identified only by their initials, are aged 6 and 8. A total of seven children were removed from the Longies' residence following Raven's death.
An FBI agent previously testified that abuse of the Thompson children appeared to have begun shortly after they were placed with the Longies in July. A preliminary autopsy report found blunt force trauma on Raven's head, neck, chest, stomach and extremities. Previous testimony disclosed that Raven was sick for several days before her death, and that she was unable to walk or sit up.
Following Raven's death, a Spirit Lake Social Services investigator also found Zane injured inside a vehicle belonging to the Longies. Zane was taken by air ambulance to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, where he spent a week in the Intensive Care Unit. The indictment alleges that the Longies either hit Zane with hands, sticks, shoes and a paddle, or allowed him to be hit. The indictment also alleges they failed to provide proper care to Zane.
The indictment similarly alleges that the Longies either hit the other two child victims, or allowed them to be hit.
Both Erich and Tammy's trials have tentatively been set to begin on Tuesday, Aug. 11. The trials are expected to last five to seven days.