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Murder charge filed in Fort Berthold case

FARGO (AP) -- A 20-year-old man facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of a former Marine from North Dakota appeared in a federal court Wednesday, but was not asked to enter a plea.

A preliminary hearing for Waylon Hicks has not been scheduled. Hicks is accused of fatally stabbing Jeremiah Sage after the two left a New Town bar last Friday on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

Sage, 30, of Halliday, served two tours of duty in Iraq, according to his obituary, which appeared in local newspapers. He was working as a compliance officer with Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota.

Funeral services are set for Friday morning in Twin Buttes.

According to an affidavit filed Wednesday, Hicks told investigators he met Sage at the Sportsmen's Bar in New Town. Hicks said Sage made sexual advances toward him after offering to drive him to his truck when the bar closed.

Hicks became angry and stabbed Sage several times in the chest, according to the affidavit.

A federal public defender did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment. U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon declined comment.

The case is in federal court in Bismarck.

Sage enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from Golden Valley High School in 2000, according to the obituary. He was stationed at Camp Lejune, N.C., and was deployed to Iraq on two occasions.

The affidavit said Hicks is an enrolled member of Walker River Paiute Tribe in Nevada, but gave no further details on his background.

Hicks told investigators that on the night of the stabbing, Sage drove to the New Town marina area after they left the bar. Hicks said once they were there, Sage made sexual advances toward him by starting to unbutton Hicks' shirt and belt.

Hicks said Sage tore the shirt when he told him to stop. Hicks said he then took a folding knife from a leather pouch he was carrying and stabbed Sage numerous times in the area of his heart.

The affidavit said Hicks got out of Sage's pickup truck, and Sage drove toward him. Hicks jumped up on the vehicle's running board and slashed Sage in the neck, according to the document.

Hicks ran up the road and called 911, the affidavit said.

The truck was on fire when authorities responded to the call, the document said. An autopsy showed that Sage died of a stab wound to the heart.

Killings are rare in North Dakota. FBI statistics show the state had 10 murders or non-negligent homicides in 2010, the most recent year for which full data is available.