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WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 09, 2013, 07:23 PM

Mother recalls finding bodies of slain children

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The mother of two children who were stabbed to death on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation sobbed Monday as she testified about finding their bodies and said she first blamed the father of the victims and not her nephew, who is currently standing trial.

By: DAVE KOLPACK, Associated Press, WDAY

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The mother of two children who were stabbed to death on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation sobbed Monday as she testified about finding their bodies and said she first blamed the father of the victims and not her nephew, who is currently standing trial.

Valentino "Tino" Bagola, 20, is charged with murder for the May 2011 slayings of 9-year-old Destiny Shaw-DuBois and her 6-year-old brother, Travis DuBois Jr. Prosecutors said Bagola, who wasn't charged until more than a year after the killings, gave a detailed confession that is supported by physical evidence.

Defense attorneys have said that Travis DuBois Sr., the father of the two children, committed the killings in the middle of a multi-day drinking binge. DuBois later pleaded guilty to public intoxication and reckless endangerment.

The mother of the victims, Mena Shaw, described to jurors the crime scene in the St. Michael residence where the children were living with their father. She drew on a floor plan where she found the bodies — three days after the killings — and said at one point she held the body of Travis DuBois Jr. in her arms and gave a good-bye kiss to Destiny Shaw-DuBois.

Prosecutors said in opening statements that DuBois Jr. was stabbed at least 60 times, and Destiny Shaw-DuBois was stabbed at least 40 times. Bagola sexually assaulted the girl, authorities said.

Mena Shaw's answers were often difficult to discern, which led prosecutor Jan Morley to repeat several of her responses. When Shaw said she first believed that that DuBois Jr. killed the children, Morley echoed her comments by saying, "What the hell did you do to my babies? You killed my babies."

When Morley asked about DuBois Sr.'s response was to her accusations, Shaw said, "He said he didn't do it and he took off running."

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson called for breaks in testimony on two occasions while court workers and lawyers tried to console Shaw.

Prosecutors have said was logical for investigators to consider DuBois Sr. a suspect, but any incriminating evidence came only when he repeated suggestions by investigators.

Shaw also fought back tears at the beginning of her testimony when she talked about agreeing to a request by her sister to allow Bagola to move from Sisseton, S.D., to St. Michael. Bagola did not like Travis DuBois Sr. and often wanted to fight him, Shaw said.

FBI investigators said Bagola told them he was angry with the elder DuBois but could not find him and instead took out his rage on the children.

The trial comes in the midst of complaints about the tribe's child protection system, which came under fire last year with reports of children being abused. The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs stepped in last October in an attempt to overhaul the system.

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