1 fatality in rollover by Kayenta

Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, March 31, 2011

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Navajo Nation Police reported a one-vehicle rollover with fatality in the Kayenta area on March 22.

The victim was identified as Stephanie Sherlock, 29, of Kayenta. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to police, she was traveling northbound on U.S. Highway 163 when she overcorrected, causing her car to skid and begin rolling sideways. Alcohol was a contributing factor to the accident, police said.

There were two passengers in the vehicle, identified as Brandon Longfeather, 20, and a 17-year-old boy, both from Kayenta.

Man run over, driver arrested at gunpoint

What started as a report of a vehicle-pedestrian accident near Bistah on March 14 ended up with a Towaoc, Colo., man being held on aggravated battery charges.

When police arrived at the scene of the incident, they were told that the suspect - Franklin P. Laner Jr., 25 - had already driven away southbound.

Police later came upon the Laner who refused to stop and forced police into a five-mile pursuit that ended with Laner taken into custody at gunpoint.

It turned out that Laner was in his vehicle with his brother, Tyrone Boone, 24, unknown address, and Candida Katchum, 25, also of Towaoc.

Boone, who was flown to San Juan Medical Center in Farmington for treatment of his injuries, was able to tell police that he had gotten into a fight with his brother who drove his vehicle over him.

Police said that was all he was able to say at the time because of the pain he was in but Katchum was able to fill in the blanks.

She told police that she was driving because she was sober and the other two were drinking when they began arguing. Laner finally forced the two out of the vehicle and as they were standing on the side of the road, she saw Laner's car coming toward them.

Both were hit but Katchum said she managed to get up but Boone was hurt so bad that he couldn't stand. She said she watched as Laner backed up his vehicle and then drove over Boone again, stopping when his rear tire was still on Boone's leg.

When Laner backed up, Katchum said she was able to move Boone away. Laner than got out of the vehicle and began kicking Boone before he drove off.

Boone was being treated for a broken pelvis and back pain. The case has been referred to the department's criminal investigation unit.

Stabbing in Klagetoh

A stabbing was reported in Klagetoh, Ariz., on March 19.

At 7:30 a.m., police received a call from Sage Memorial Hospital that they were treating a stabbing victim in the emergency room.

The victim - Daryl Howard Clark, 31, of Klagetoh - was stabbed several times in both of his arms. The wound to his right arm had severed his tendons. He also had several slash marks on the side of his chest.

Police have listed Ronald Benally, 32, of Wide Ruins, Ariz., as a person of interest in this case.

2 struck by vehicle in Klagetoh area

Another assault with a vehicle case came up in the Klagetoh, Ariz., area on March 16.

It began with a call from officials at Sage Memorial Hospital reporting that they had two individuals brought in suffering from injuries caused by being stuck by a vehicle.

The two - Treva Shirley, 20, of Houck, Ariz., and Alonzo Green, 22, of Klagetoh - were flown to Flagstaff. Shirley reportedly had a broken ankle and abrasions to her face and body and Green also had a number of abrasions to his body as well.

No details were given as to how the injuries were caused. Police listed Vince Carl Gordo, 20, of Klagetoh, as a person of interest in the case.

Driver rams police car, drives off cliff

Police are looking for LeKinder Bahe who reportedly rammed a police vehicle, ran off the side of a hill and then escaped from the hospital.

Police were called out to the water tank in Chinle on March 6 because of reports that there were several men drinking in a car and fighting.

When the police vehicle arrived on the scene, the officer saw the car but the driver also saw him because the vehicle took off and sideswiped the police vehicle as it was leaving, causing damage to the vehicle's front and rear fenders.

A vehicle pursuit began with police chasing after Bahe, 29, of Rough Rock, Ariz. The Bahe vehicle reportedly left the Chinle area at a high rate of speed and then turned west onto a dirt road where it continued to speed, almost going over a hill.

Eventually, the Bahe vehicle stopped but as the police vehicle got near, it shifted into reverse, almost hitting the police vehicle again. This time it was going east and again it headed toward a hill.

This time, however, it didn't stop and went over the cliff, going down 20 feet and hitting a solid embankment.

Bahe then got out of the vehicle and began running. He didn't get far before he was taken into custody.

Police said there were three other passengers in the car - Charmaine Begay, 19, and Edward Joe Jr., 30, both of Chinle, and Arno Coggeshell, 28, no address listed.

One of the male passengers hit his head on the windshield. The other two also received injuries and were taken to the hospital along with Bahe, who also suffered unspecified injuries.

It was at the unnamed hospital that Bahe and one of the passengers escaped.

St. Michaels woman stabbed by boyfriend

Yolanda Legah, 45, of St. Michaels, Ariz., was brought into the emergency room March 23 at the Fort Defiance hospital with lacerations to her lower back, police said.

She told police that her boyfriend - listed by police as Joshua Hardy, 23, of St. Michaels - had stabbed her. Alcohol was listed as a factor in the incident.

The police report did not say whether Hardy had been charged in this incident. It did state that Legah told police that she did not want to pursue the charges.

Fire damages Hard Rock house

Navajo Nation Police and fire officials are investigating to determine what caused a fire to damage a house in the Hard Rock, Ariz., area on March 5.

Lena Benally, the owner of the house, located 18 miles north of the chapter house, told police that she left her home about 7 p.m. When she returned an hour later, she found the home on fire and said she believed her son, Lonnie Bedonnie, 43, of Hard Rock, had been at home when the fire started.

Her 12-year-old granddaughter told police that Benally had returned home that afternoon intoxicated and began "talking crazy" about how the world was going to end in 2012 and that everyone was going to die.

She said he also told her that he planned to burn down the house.

The case has been turned over to criminal investigations.

Man found guilty of 2nd-degree murder

ALBUQUERQUE - Carl Ernesto Romero, 20, was convicted of second-degree murder after a four-day trial, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Romero, who resides in the Pueblo of Okay Owingeh, was found guilty of killing 26-year-old Naayaitch Friday, a member of the Arapaho Indian Tribe of Wyoming, within the boundaries of the San Ildelfonso Pueblo, on April 11, 2009.

The evidence at trial established that Friday and a friend met Romero and two of his cohorts for the first time on the night of April 10, 2009, at a Sonic drive-in restaurant in Espanola, N.M., after Romero parked his Chevrolet Cavalier in the parking space next to the space occupied by Friday and the friend.

Thereafter, when the friend was confronted by an individual who brandished a firearm at him, Romero offered to let the friend use his shotgun to defend himself, and the friend observed that a shotgun was in the Cavalier.

At approximately 10:45 p.m., Friday and the friend joined Romero and his two cohorts when they left in the Cavalier to go to the Big Rock Casino located on the Santa Clara Pueblo. The group convened at the sports bar where they drank alcohol. They left the casino and later returned at around 12:30 a.m. on April 11, 2011.

The group was confronted by casino security officers in the parking lot and left the premises at approximately 12:45 a.m. After driving around, Romero, Friday and the two other men dropped the friend off at a residence in the San Ildelfonso Pueblo.

Friday's body was discovered in an arroyo on the San Ildelfonso Pueblo on the afternoon of April 11, 2009, by a motorist. An autopsy established that Friday had been shot at close range in the chest and chin by a shotgun.

Romero was charged in a five-count indictment alleging offenses related to Friday's murder. In addition to the murder charge, the indictment charged Romero with four other offenses: use of a firearm in relation to the violent crime of murder; assault with a dangerous weapon; assault resulting in serious bodily injury; and use of a firearm in relation to the violent crime of assault.

Fruitland man pleads guilty

ALBUQUERQUE - Diono H. Pete, 48, Navajo, who resides in Fruitland, N.M., entered a guilty plea to a one-count indictment charging him with assault resulting in serious bodily injury under a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney's office.

The charge against Pete arose out of a collision that occurred on the Navajo Reservation on the evening of Oct. 10, 2010, when a motorcyclist was struck from behind by Pete's vehicle.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, when Pete's vehicle collided with the motorcycle, the motorcyclist was thrown into the window of Pete's vehicle and then rolled off the vehicle. The motorcyclist sustained multiple lacerations to the head and a spinal fracture.

Investigation by the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety revealed no skid marks or other evidence of braking by Pete's vehicle at the scene of the collision.

The investigation also revealed that there was beer in Pete's vehicle and that Pete had a blood alcohol content of .12 approximately two hours after the collision.

During an interview on Oct. 11, 2010, Pete admitted that he had consumed beer before the collision but felt OK to drive and was traveling at a speed of 60 mph when the collision occurred.

Tohajiilee man sentenced for assault

ALBUQUERQUE - Daniel Walters, 42, Navajo, who resides in Tohajiilee, N.M., was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Court records reflect that, on the evening of Sept. 6, 2009, Walters hosted a party at his Tohajiilee residence, and that his victim was amongst those who attended the party. Almost everyone at the party was drinking alcohol, including Walters and his victim, and a fight broke out amongst a number of the party guests in the early hours.

During the fight, the victim struck Walters in the forehead with a beer bottle. Thereafter, the victim left Walters' residence on foot.

Walters, his son and a friend got into Walters' vehicle and went in search of the victim. When they found the victim walking along the side of a road, Walters got out of his vehicle and repeatedly slashed the victim's face with a knife. Walters and his companions then left the area.

Court records reflect that the victim made his way to a nearby residence and obtained assistance in getting to a medical facility. More than 100 stitches were required to close the cuts on the victim's face and the victim has permanent scars on his face as a result of the assault.

Gila River men accused of embezzling

PHOENIX - Gila River Indian Community members Franklin Joseph Jackson Sr., 62, of Bapchule, Ariz., and Lloyd Notah Jr., 63, of Sacaton, Ariz., were indicted March 24 for embezzlement from a tribal organization, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Jackson is accused of embezzling $16,879.50 while serving on the board of directors for the Gila River Indian Community's Lone Butte Industrial Development Corp.

Notah is accused of embezzling $15,420.26 and filing fraudulent expense and stipend claims during his tenure on the same board.

Each faces up to five years and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Meth dealer sentenced

PHOENIX - Windy Whirlwindsoldier, 33, of Tuba City, was sentenced March 21 to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

On April 14, 2010, Whirlwindsoldier and Leola Dale Edison sold methamphetamine to undercover officers at a hotel in Flagstaff. The two women were amongst numerous suspected meth dealers who were targeted during a nearly two-year undercover operation, which took place in the Tuba City area.

Edison was sentenced Feb. 14 to three years in prison after pleading guilty to the same charge as Whirlwindsoldier.

Altogether, police arrested 22 people in the sting operation, of whom 13 have been sentenced, five are awaiting sentencing, and trials are pending in the remaining four cases.

Skeet sentenced for punching minister

ALBUQUERQUE - William Skeet, 20, of Pinedale, N.M., was sentenced March 18 to one year in prison followed by three years of supervised release for attacking a minister who challenged his treatment of a dog, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

The assault occurred March 28, 2009, as the victim was driving around the Navajo Reservation and picking up people for a party at the Morning Star Baptist Church.

The minister had previously observed Skeet teaching a pit bull to be aggressive, and reported the incidence to Skeet's father.  Skeet's father responded by taking the pit bull away from Skeet.

On March 28, the victim was turning his church van around in the vicinity of Skeet's home and Skeet ran up, stood on the running board and struck the victim with his closed left fist, nearly knocking out his eye.

Witnesses reported that, after striking the victim in the face, Skeet attempted to pull the victim out of the van but was unable to do so because the victim accelerated the van and left the area.

The punch inflicted a severe injury which required surgery to repair the orbital bone and reset the eyeball.

When interviewed about the assault on April 22, 2009, Skeet said that his pit bulls had been taken away after the victim told Skeet's father that he did not think Skeet and his friends should be fighting pit bulls.

Skeet admitted punching the victim in the face and trying to pull him out of the van. Skeet also threatened to "finish beating" the victim if he ever saw him again.

Skeet was ordered to pay $1,927.20 in restitution to the victim and $361.15 to Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care in Gallup.

Sex offender gets 2 years for failing to register

ALBUQUERQUE - Alton Jay Cowboy, 41, was sentenced March 16 to two years in prison for failing to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

After serving his prison term, Cowboy will be on supervised release for five years and will be required to register as a sex offender.

He was convicted of aggravated sexual abuse of a child in 1998, and was sentenced to seven years. He repeatedly failed to keep his registration current, most recently after moving to Crownpoint.

He's been in federal custody since May 5, 2010, and on Oct. 7 pleaded guilty to failing to report as required under the federal sex offender registration law.

Coho indicted for rape

ALBUQUERQUE - Sebastiano Coho, 20, was indicted March 9 on two counts of aggravated sexual abuse, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Coho was arrested Jan. 27 on a battery charge that later was expanded into the rape charges. He allegedly sexually and physically assaulted a female Jan. 25 in Pine Hill, N.M.

Coho faces up to life imprisonment, a maximum $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release if convicted on either charge.

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