This is an archived article that was published on in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An American Indian man convicted of assaulting a federal officer — by jurors who made racist comments about the defendant — has exhausted his appeals options.

The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to hear the case of Kerry Dean Benally, 39, who was sentenced in June 2010 to 57 months in prison.

Benally's sentencing came after a three-year delay, because Benally's conviction was overturned when a judge learned jurors made racially biased comments during deliberations.

The sentence for Benally was later reinstated.

Benally was convicted in October 2007 of punching a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer and hitting him in the face with a flashlight. The officer had followed Benally because he was driving erratically in the White Mesa area in southeastern Utah and appeared intoxicated.

The day after the conviction, a juror came forward and reported that the jury foreman said: "When Indians get alcohol, they all get drunk and ... violent," according to court documents.

Other jurors spoke about "sending a message to the reservation" with a guilty verdict for Benally. Another juror spoke about being angry at people who "mess with police officers and get away with it," court documents state.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball threw out Benally's conviction and ordered a new trial upon learning of the jury comments. The U.S. Attorney's Office appealed Kimball's decision, citing a rule that prohibits jurors from testifying about their verdicts.

A panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the conviction in November 2008. The full 10th Circuit declined in March 2009 to hear Benally's appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court also denied the request for a hearing in December 2009.

Benally's defense attorney brought a second request to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case earlier this year. The high court denied Benally's petition on Tuesday.