Cody St. John's case against attackers still ongoing

stjohn1.jpg
Courtesy Jeff Anderson & Associates.
Cody St. John was brutally beaten and left for dead on that cold Valentine's Day in 2006.
It's been more than five years since Cody St. John, a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, was brutally beaten after refusing to join the Vice Lords gang, and the civil case is still ongoing.

Last summer, St. John won a $4.2 million lawsuit against Keith Reynolds, one of the men who attacked him and left him for dead. Now, St. John's attorney, Patrick Noaker, is in the process of suing Lorenzo Merrill, the alleged second attacker.

"What happened to Cody was so horrible, and it was clearly intended to send a statement to the community on the Mille Lacs reservation," says Noaker, attorney for Jeff Anderson & Associates, a law firm usually known for taking on sexual abuse cases within the Catholic Church. "I just decided I had to help this kid."

The attack occurred on February 14, 2006. It was a subzero night on the Mille Lacs band Ojibwe reservation, and St. John wasn't dressed for it.

stjohn3.jpg
Courtesy Jeff Anderson & Associates.
The attackers carved the letters "VL" in St. John's arm for "Vice Lords."
He had spent the evening drinking at his aunt's house, and left on foot only wearing pants a shirt. On the way home, St. John stopped at the reservation's community center in search of warmer clothes. It was locked.

It was around this time St. John realized he wasn't alone. Two men appeared, and jumped him.

"I don't remember anything after that because someone came up behind me and hit me in the back of the head," he says.

The next thing St. John remembers, he woke up in a hospital with a tube stuck down his throat. The two men had tied him to the back of a car and dragged him down the street. They carved the letters "VL" in his skin and left him outside the community center, unconscious in the freezing cold.

keithreynolds.jpg
Courtesy Mille Lacs Messenger.
Keith Reynolds was ordered to pay $4.2 million earlier this summer.
St. John could have died that night if not for his cousin Rubin, who found him in the snow and called 911.

St. John recognized one of the attackers as Reynolds, a young man he went to school with growing up. Reynolds and St. John got into a fight earlier in the night when St. John refused to join him in the Vice Lords.

Reynolds was convicted of third-degree felony assault and sentenced to one year in prison.

After hearing about St. John's case, Noaker obtained a license to practice in tribal court and sued Reynolds.

In July, the Mille Lacs Band court ruled that Reynolds must pay $4,299,937 for physical and mental injury and punitive damages.

"This guy hurt this kid, he hurt him bad," says Noaker. "And he's going to have to help pay for some of that treatment."

Next, Noaker went after Lorenzo. Lorenzo was never charged criminally, but Noaker says he was the second attacker. The case is still ongoing in tribal court.

For more on St. John and crime on the Ojibwe reservation, read this week's feature, "The Banishing."

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4 comments
Guest
Guest

It all stems from the Violence against our women, Child molestation and In breeding that goes on and everyone tries hiding. Its just Karma Slapping our people in the Face saying, "Hello, wake up this is a war zone". We all know someone that has done it, our Grandfathers have done it and it keeps going on and on. Then give us hand outs to reward us for bad behavior, we just start expecting everything handed to us. The white man was wrong by taking our land, But that's how it was centuries ago. Now big government has stepped in and really made a mess out of things once again. Inbreeding is the reproduction from the mating of two genetically related parents. Inbreeding results in increased homozygosity, which can increase the chances of offspring being affected by recessive or deleterious traits. This generally leads to a decreased fitness of a population, which is called inbreeding "depression". Its not my place to judge, but our actions have compelled a higher power to judge and its sad to see that everyone keeps acting like nothing is going on. The "Per Capita" we receive is "Dirty" money that is generated from a gambling demon that has corrupted many people and takes advantage of this sin, but no one cares as long as we get our money. We all get this money handed to us and continue to rip people off, which is a greed demon that has spread nationwide. So now there are about a dozen Demons running wild and free to do whatever they want. Now the Gangs / Terrorists!!! are the repercussion from our children that were taught to keep their mouths shut and shown no love unless daddy was drunk and horny, So who stood up for these children, Gitchi Manidoo and he can only let so much of this go on before he releases his wrath and we're seeing it first hand. So this is only going to get worse since everyone is concerned about per cap and not the future of our people. We have no motivation to better ourselves, we get jobs handed to us and think we wont be fired cause we're Native, which is true but that's what we're taught. So here you go all you elders, you just reaped what you sowed. How many more are we going to lose before we realize the cycle isn't working. Show this to all the elected officials and see if they continue the *hush-hush* don't talk to the media or actually care about our people or just their beloved dollar that continues to bring our people down. Cut our Per Cap and invest it in creating Jobs, Awareness, Hope, Education and Religion as this is the only way to break the vicious cycle that we have created for ourselves.

iamthechosenone
iamthechosenone

@Guest I wouldn't be able to go to college , pay for my mortgage,& child care if we didn't get our per capita paymeants. Yes some of our people choose to drink and snort pills but that's there own fault. Now you got people on our Rez doing Meth,cocaine, & herion. Before it was a case of bud light and a dime bag of weed... Shit people don't hardly even smoke weed anymore. But the cheap BEER & 1.75 of silver wolf Vodka aka Nickle CRACK...

Stacey
Stacey

Hi Andy,

Great piece - the attorney is Patrick Noaker - not Paul. Thanks!

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