FORT DUCHESNE — A tree branch, a metal object, a large ceramic beer mug and a stone.
Rupert James Duncan used those items — along with his hands and feet — to severely injure his girlfriend in three separate incidents last year that took place over the course of five months, according to investigators.
On Wednesday, Duncan was sentenced to 34 months in federal prison for his guilty plea to assault with a dangerous weapon while within Indian Country in connection with one of those incidents. He will also spend 36 months under federal supervision after his release.
Duncan, 29, hit his girlfriend in the face with a large beer mug on July 6 because she "smiled in his face while he was feeling sad," court records show. The force of the blow shattered the ceramic mug, sliced the 28-year-old woman's lip open in three places and knocked her to the ground.
"I continued to kick (the victim) in the head and back," Duncan admitted in a statement filed as part of his guilty plea. "I intended to injure (the victim) and caused a laceration and disfigurement to her face and lip that required surgery and sutures."
The case was prosecuted in federal court because Duncan and his girlfriend are enrolled members of an American Indian tribe and the assault happened at a house within the borders of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation in northeastern Utah.
Prosecutors in Duchesne and Uintah counties also have cases pending against Duncan for separate attacks on the same woman.
In April 2013, Duncan choked the woman outside the state liquor store in Roosevelt after employees told the woman she could not use her tribal ID card to buy a bottle of whiskey, according to a Roosevelt police report. Witnesses told police the attack happened in front of two small children.
When investigators spoke with the woman they noticed red marks on her neck and a bruise "the size of a loaf of bread" on her upper left arm, the report states. Her left wrist also "appeared to be broken, was swollen and deformed."
The woman told officers Duncan hit her in the arm with a tree branch "that looked like a sword" before their trip to the liquor store. She also said her boyfriend had hit her in the face with "a metal object" two days earlier, the report states.
Duncan was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, domestic violence in the presence of a child, providing false information to police, disorderly conduct and intoxication.
Then, on Aug. 28, more than a month after the beer mug incident, Uintah County sheriff's deputies were called to Diamond Mountain Road after a driver found a woman and a child on the side of the road. The woman had "severe injuries" to her face and said her boyfriend caused them, charging documents state.
The woman told investigators she was driving with Duncan and her son when she and Duncan began arguing about finances. Duncan hit her twice in the face and bit her arm, the woman told investigators.
The trio drove to the base of Diamond Mountain, where the truck became high-centered on a rock after the woman turned off the main road. An enraged Duncan got out of the truck, picked up a stone and threw it through the open passenger window, hitting the woman in the right side of the face, the charges state.
"Duncan told her to walk away and both her and her son started walking away from the truck toward (Diamond Mountain Road)," a deputy wrote. The woman told investigators she lost consciousness several times during the walk back to the main road. Her son was not wearing shoes or socks when he and his mother were found, deputies said.
The woman, whose hair was matted with dried blood, was taken to the hospital in Vernal, where doctors treated her for injuries to her right eye socket and a shattered cheek bone that was expected to require multiple surgeries to repair, the charges state.
Duncan was found walking about a mile from the disabled truck and arrested. Prosecutors charged him with aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, domestic violence in the presence of a child and criminal mischief.
Court records show Duncan is set to appear April 22 in Vernal's 8th District Court for a change-of-plea hearing and sentencing in both state cases. He faces up to 15 years in prison on the Uintah County aggravated assault charge and up to five years in prison on the aggravated assault charge filed in Duchesne County.
Duncan remains in federal custody, where he has been held since his indictment and arrest in September.
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