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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Woman sentenced in scalping

Rebecca Boone Associated Press

IDAHO CITY, Idaho – A Caldwell woman who scalped a teenage friend for lying was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison for felony aggravated battery.

Fourth District Judge Kathryn Sticklen ordered Marianne Dahle, 27, to serve at least four years in prison before she is eligible for parole. Sticklen said she had little confidence that Dahle would seek psychiatric help and avoid harming society on her own.

The January attack left the victim, a 16-year-old identified only as Sheila, physically and emotionally scarred, prosecuting attorney Theresa Gardunia said.

The teen was too afraid of Dahle to read a statement at sentencing, Gardunia said.

“This was a premeditated attack on a minor for nothing more than a social slight,” Gardunia told the judge, adding, “She’s scared to death.”

Sheila spent two weeks in the hospital and has undergone several surgeries to graft skin onto the circular scalp wound, Gardunia said. More operations will be required.

Dahle fidgeted with a tiny Bible and looked at a picture of her young son during the proceedings. She sobbed when she was given a chance to speak.

“I had something that I wanted to say to Sheila, but she’s not here,” Dahle said. “I pray for her. I have a hard time sleeping at night because when I close my eyes, all I see is the horror of that night.”

She said she hopes Sheila recovers and can get on with her life.

Defense attorney Kathy Edwards called the crime an accident, saying Dahle suffers from bipolar disorder and was not taking her medication at the time – and was abusing methamphetamine, marijuana and alcohol.

Sheila had been hanging out with Dahle and her friends – an older, punk clique – and was given a mohawk haircut when the others decided she was worthy, Edwards said. The teen attached herself to Dahle, though Dahle had warned Sheila’s mother that the group was too old and too fast for a 16-year-old, Edwards said.

One day Sheila told Dahle she’d been raped. Dahle herself had been through a traumatic rape, Edwards said, and encouraged the girl to get counseling. Dahle was upset when she later learned Sheila had invented the attack.

As punishment, Edwards said, the group decided Sheila could no longer wear a mohawk. Dahle and another woman were chosen to cut the teen’s hair, and the group gave Dahle the dull knife used in the crime, Edwards said.

“She didn’t even realize until she was done the extent of the horrible injury on the person,” Edwards said. “She insisted they take the victim to the hospital, and Mary sat with the victim the entire way to the hospital, with her shirt trying to stop the bleeding.”

Gardunia offered another version of the events.

She said Dahle and another woman lured Sheila to remote Kirkham Hot Springs, where they bound her with rope and duct tape. At one point Sheila was held under water until she thought she would die, Gardunia said.

Then Dahle decided to give her the “haircut.”

“She cut off approximately a 6- by 8-inch section of her scalp,” Gardunia said.

“This was not an accident,” she said. “The amount of force required is significant in order to separate the scalp from the head.”