News & Features

Arlee Woman Held on $1M Bail After Uncle Beaten to Death

Darnell Lee Reevis, 41, was charged with deliberate homicide in the death of Paul Big Sam

MISSOULA — Bail was set at $1 million Monday for an Arlee woman who is charged with beating her uncle with an aluminum baseball bat, causing fatal injuries.

Darnell Lee Reevis, 41, was charged with deliberate homicide in the death of Paul Big Sam on the Flathead Indian Reservation. She did not enter a plea. She told investigators she struck her uncle four times with the bat, but was acting in self-defense, court records said. A Missoula County justice of the peace declined her public defender’s request for a lesser bail amount.

Reevis’ mother, Mary Big Sam, said she found her brother, Paul Big Sam, in her yard late Friday morning covered with blood with his eyes swollen shut, investigators said. He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

After the assault, Reevis attempted to wash her clothes and hide the baseball bat, prosecutors said in charging her with two counts of tampering with evidence.

A day earlier, Confederated Salish and Kooteanai Tribal Officers had been called to the residence after Reevis argued with her mother and uncle over money and the use of a vehicle. Reevis head-butted her uncle as he stepped between Reevis and her mother, court records said.

Officers recommended Reevis be charged with domestic assault, but she was not arrested. She was taken to the hospital in Missoula for treatment of a cut on her face caused when she head-butted her uncle, court records said. She was released from the hospital and returned to the home she shared with her mother.

When tribal officers responded to a 911 call about 12:40 p.m. Friday, Reevis showed them a picture of Paul Big Sam she said she took after assaulting him and then cleaning up the blood. It was time-stamped at 6:47 a.m., indicating the assault happened hours before it was reported, court records said.