Archived News

Trial expected in 2024 for Crowe assault case

Bo Crowe. File photo Bo Crowe. File photo

Former Wolfetown Rep. Bo Crowe pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in federal court Friday, Aug. 11, but plans to fight tribal charges stemming from the same incident at trial. 


“He would like to clear his name as soon as possible,” Crowe’s attorney Caleb Decker told Temporary Associate Judge Tracy Barrett during an Aug. 9 hearing in the tribal case. 

In Cherokee Tribal Court Crowe faces three charges, two of which are felonies, in connection with an incident that occurred the evening of Jan. 6 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. Crowe is accused of striking Knoxville resident Jason Matthew Burleson, placing his arm around his neck, and squeezing, rendering him unconscious. The factual basis that Crowe agreed to via his attorney in a June court filing for the federal case outlines a similar sequence of events, saying that Crowe landed several punches before maneuvering to the victim’s back and rendering him momentarily unconscious. 

However, Crowe’s family members have stated publicly that this outline doesn’t tell the whole story. Crowe acted to protect his daughter and niece, who are both teenagers, they said. Crowe’s community in Cherokee has stood by him as well. Though he resigned his seat representing Wolfetown on Tribal Council after the charges were filed, he is a candidate for that same office in the September election. During the June primary , he was far-and-away the top vote-getter in a field of six.

In a June interview , Decker told The Smoky Mountain News that Crowe’s decision to plead guilty in the federal case was influenced by financial considerations — fighting federal charges is expensive — and by the potential sentence should he be convicted. Sentencing guidelines for the charge to which he pleaded guilty recommend zero to six months for a person with limited or no criminal history.

Related Items

During the Aug. 9 tribal court hearing, Decker told Barrett that he wanted to go to trial as soon as possible, but Tribal Prosecutor Shelli Buckner said the court calendar for the remainder of 2023 is already “very full” and that other defendants are awaiting trial in cases “much older” than Crowe’s. These cases should take priority, she said, especially since Crowe is not awaiting trial in jail, like some other defendants are.

Decker said he understood the court’s constraints but that the allegations are hindering Crowe’s participation in the political process.

“2024 seems like a long, long way away,” he told Barrett.

But it will have to wait until then, Barrett decided. She said she wants input on court availability before scheduling the jury trial and asked the parties to come back for a hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, to set a trial date. The court will need to set the date well in advance of the trial to ensure selection of an appropriately sized jury, she said. Given the Jan. 10 hearing date, March is the earliest possible timeframe for the trial.

The tribal charges carry a maximum combined prison sentence of seven years, and a felony conviction could end Crowe’s political career. Under tribal law, a person who has been convicted of a felony offense is ineligible to run for or hold elected office. Tribal court may grant a petition to reinstate this right following completion of the sentence.

News Editor Kyle Perrotti contributed to this report.

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.