Facebook Twitter

Jury acquits Ute woman in stabbing death

SHARE Jury acquits Ute woman in stabbing death

A federal court jury has acquitted a woman charged with manslaughter in the stabbing death of a neighbor on the White Mesa Ute reservation.

Ophelia Cantsee, 34, was arrested after the Jan. 18, 1997, stabbing of Chrystal G. Dale, 18, and her brother, Jacob Dale, 22. Chrystal Dale died from a single stab wound to the chest. Her brother was treated for a minor wound.The Dales and several others had gone to Cantsee's home that night, and a fight broke out in Cantsee's yard.

The two women had been feuding for months, said defense attorney Ed Brass, and each had ob-tained a tribal court restraining order on the other.

Chrystal Dale was being investigated for allegedly burglarizing the home of Cantsee's brother, he said, and the two woman had dated the same man.

Cantsee called tribal police when the Dale group arrived at her home shortly before 10 p.m., Brass said. However, police did not arrive for two hours. Cantsee eventually grabbed a knife and acted in her own defense and the defense of her family, Brass argued to jurors.

The jury heard five days of testimony before U.S. District Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City. Jurors reached their verdict Friday after deliberating about five hours. They found Cantsee not guilty of one count of voluntary manslaughter and two assault counts.

The White Mesa Ute reservation is about 10 miles south of Bland-ing.