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Bottineau man gets 45 years in prison for hog farm murders

BOTTINEAU, N.D. - A man charged with killing two fellow employees of a hog farm near Souris in north-central North Dakota was sentenced to 45 years in prison Thursday.

BOTTINEAU, N.D. - A man charged with killing two fellow employees of a hog farm near Souris in north-central North Dakota was sentenced to 45 years in prison Thursday.

Jeremy Isaac Rodriguez Rios, 20, was charged with two counts of murder, both Class AA felonies, in Bottineau County District Court after police say he confessed to fatally shooting Brian Story, 37, and Christopher Sluder, 50, on March 24, 2015, at Turtle Mountain Pork, a commercial hog operation where all three men worked, according to court records.

Rodriguez Rios, of Bottineau, entered an Alford plea Thursday, which means he entered the plea as part of an agreement without actually admitting guilt.

He was sentenced Thursday to 45 years in prison for each of his murder charges, to be served at the same time, with credit for 337 days served, in addition to $1,025 in fees. He had previously faced a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Bottineau County Sheriff's deputies found Sluder and Story shot to death at the hog farm after 911 callers reported the two employees were unconscious, according to court records. The farm is between Landa and Souris, about 75 miles northeast of Minot.

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Deputies found one of the men in a hallway connecting two of the hog barns, the other in a hog barn on a walkway between pigpens, and multiple spent 9 mm Winchester Luger cartridges near one of the victims, according to a court records.

Employees told authorities Rodriguez Rios was among a group of employees who allegedly engaged in a verbal altercation with Sluder and Story about employee work performance, according to court records.

Rodriguez Rios was arrested after officers questioned him about a picture of a black handgun that was posted to his Facebook page 10 days before the murders, a criminal affidavit said. Officers then obtained a search warrant for the suspect's apartment, which had a firearm case for a 9 mm handgun, a box of Winchester 9 mm ammunition and a cellphone.

According to the affidavit, Rodriguez Rios admitted he shot both victims and disposed of the handgun in a sewage pit located below the hog barns.

Sluder, originally of Melvern, Kan., was married and had a son and a daughter, according to his obituary. Story, originally of Prineville, Ore., left behind a wife, two daughters, a son and a grandson, according to his obituary.

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