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June 18, 2014

Judges upheld Peshawbestown man's conviction for murdering daughter

CINCINNATI — Federal judges upheld a Peshawbestown man's conviction for killing his infant daughter during a sexual assault.

Steven William Deuman Jr., 29, is serving a mandatory life sentence in an Arizona federal prison after a U.S. District Court jury in Grand Rapids found him guilty of first-degree murder.

A grand jury indicted and charged Deuman, a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, in his 3-month-old daughter's August 2011 asphyxiation death in his home along M-22 on the band's reservation in Peshawbestown.

Deuman appealed his conviction, but on June 11 judges for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected all his arguments. Their opinion states the case's facts are "unavoidably disturbing" and provided "nearly overwhelming" evidence of Deuman's guilt.

The court document states at one point Deuman told federal agents "it was possible" an evil spirit that lived in his house entered his body and compelled actions that led to his daughter's death. An autopsy revealed his daughter died from asphyxiation. Federal authorities contended this occurred during a sexual assault.

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