Man struck by car near Gallup

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK, May 2, 2013

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ATohatchi man was reported to still be in serious condition Tuesday at the Gallup Indian Medical Center after being struck by a car on Saturday.

According to the police report, Everett Sage, of Tohatchi, N.M., was walking north on the highway when he walked into the path of a car driven by Gallup resident April Shorty, 44, of Gallup.

Deputies for the McKinley County Sheriff's Office said when they arrived to the scene they noticed clothing on the road as well as skid marks indicating that the driver tried to take evasive action from hitting Sage.

Shorty was interviewed and according to police, she appeared to be upset and concerned for Sage. She said he walked onto the road and she tried to avoid hitting him but she could not.

She also told police that she had consumed one wine cooler about three and a half hours before the accident. Police officers at the scene said that they did not observe any indications of intoxication at the time.

Shorty agreed to a blood alcohol test that showed her blood alcohol level to be .04, which was below the legal limit of .08.

She also agreed to complete field sobriety tests, which also indicated no serious affects of intoxication.

One of the police officers then took her home and reported that she continued to be very upset on the drive and cried several times.

As for the victim, police at the scene said they observed him to have multiple injuries to the face, head, arms, sides and right leg. He was taken to the intensive care unit at Gallup Indian Medical Center.

Hospital doctors said later that Sage had a fractured spinal column with multiple abrasions, cuts and bruises. He was also reported to have been intoxicated at the time of the accident.

Doctors also told police that Sage's lab work did not display the typical signs of a chronic alcoholic but added that his family members said he would have to go to alcoholic rehab after he is released from the hospital.

Arson fires discovered in Shiprock

SHIPROCK - Several arson fires have been occurring in Shiprock on the Navajo Reservation, according to a news release from the BIA-Navajo Region Fire Management/Fuels.

In Hogback, an arson fire was discovered on April 16 at 2:43 p.m. and in Cudei on April 16 at 2:20 p.m.

If anyone has information regarding the person(s) involved in this crime are encouraged to call WeTip immediately at 1-800-472-7766. You may be eligible for a reward if your information leads to an arrest and conviction. Callers will remain completely anonymous.

Operation Second Chance set for this weekend

SANTA FE, N.M. - The New Mexico Magistrate Courts, in cooperation with the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, are conducting Operation Second Chance this weekend in Central New Mexico.

Any person with an outstanding warrant is encouraged to avoid arrest by addressing outstanding obligations prior to the operation.

Information on clearing warrants is available at the New Mexico Judiciary website,, under the "What's New" heading.

A safe surrender site will be announced on May 4 at 10 a.m. Any person wishing to surrender themselves on a New Mexico Magistrate Warrant is encouraged to check local news outlets, Facebook (search NM Magistrate Court Warrant Enforcement Program) or Twitter (@NMSafeSurrender) for the location and hours. Defendants in warrant status, who surrender, will have the opportunity to avoid arrest by appearing before a judge.

Piñon man charged in double murder

WINDOW ROCK - The FBI reported Thursday that a Pinon man has been charged with two open counts of murder in the killing of two other men on the Navajo Reservation on March 30.

Richard Cooke is being held in connection with the death of two other Pinon men - Alvin Tachine and Leveil Natoni.

According to court records, the three were consuming alcohol when they got into an argument that eventually turned violent. After the three fought for while, Cooke reportedly left the scene and went to his nearby residence and picked up his hunting rifle.

He went back to the area where the other two were drinking and without saying a word fired two shots.

Both shots went into one of the victims but one of the shots passed through the chest of one victim and then stuck the chest of the second victim, who was standing behind him.

Both victims died at the scene.

Cooke then drove to his home and called police, telling them where he was and where they could find the bodies of the two victims.

Cooke has already been arraigned for the crimes.

Woman gets five years for vehicular homicide

WINDOW ROCK - A Tohlakai woman, convicted in January of two counts of vehicular homicide, received a five-year sentence in Gallup District Court Friday.

Arlene Garnenez, 36, was given the maximum six year sentence for each death but District Court Judge Louis DiPauli Jr. agreed to suspend seven years of that sentence.

He also agreed to allow her to remain out of custody pending the results of appeals her defense attorney plans to file.

Garnenez was convicted of the July 2011 deaths of Christina Joe, 32, of Standing Rock, N.M. and Shawn Bennett, 32, of Prewitt, N.M.

The two died just after dawn on July 21 near Churchrock, after a night of partying with Garnenez and two other people.

The family of the two victims spoke for more than an hour at Friday's sentencing, urging DiPauli to send a message to other drivers in this area that if they drink and drive and someone is killed, they will get the maximum sentence allowed under law.

But DiPauli said he couldn't do that, given Garnenez's exemplary life before the accident as a military officer and a mother. It wasn't fair, he said, to give her the maximum for "one stupid mistake."

In the trial last January, Garnenez took the stand and told the jury that while she drove the others throughout the night to various communities in the county, she barely had anything to drink.

The other two people who were also with her that night also testified during the trial that they did not see her drink very much.

But four hours after the accident, Garnenez had her blood drawn at the hospital and she posted a .06 blood alcohol level.

Experts brought in by the prosecution said this indicated that she had a blood alcohol level as high as .12 at the time of the accident and while the degree of reduction in blood alcohol level may vary from person to person, there was no doubt that her blood alcohol level at the time of the accident was over .08, the legal limit allowed under law.

The family members of the victim also stated that they felt that Garnenez had shown no remorse for the accident and has spent the time blaming others for what occurred that night.

But Garnenez, when she had an opportunity to speak during the sentencing, broke down as she turned to the family members and said she was very sorry for their suffering and wished that this had never happened.

Hitchhiker stabbed, robbed

Gallup police are looking for two men who offered a ride to a Thoreau man on April 27 and then stabbed him.

The victim, Kevin Johnson, 24, told police that he was walking home to Thoreau on East Highway 66 in Gallup about 9 p.m. when two men in a navy blue SUV drove up and offered him a ride to Church Rock, N.M.

When he got into the vehicle, however, he said he immediately sensed that something was wrong and asked to be let out. Instead, one of the men pulled out a pocketknife and stabbed him in the stomach and wrist.

Johnson said he was then robbed of his turquoise jewelry before he was let out of the vehicle along the highway.

Man pleads guilty in auto-ped death

The U. S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque said Tuesday that a Crownpoint man pled guilty that day in federal court to a federal involuntary manslaughter charge.

Sampson Antonio Jr, 24, was facing that charge in connection with the death of a 19-year-old Navajo woman in Mariano Lake in April 2012. Antonio was accused of driving a vehicle while intoxicated and running over the victim, causing her death.

On Tuesday, Antonio admitted to the main charges and faces a maximum penalty of eight years at sentencing.

Ojo Encino man pleads guilty to assault

In another pleading also heard Tuesday in federal court in Albuquerque, an Ojo Encino man pled guilty to using a firearm during an assault.

Permanuel Castillo, 22, pled guilty to the shooting of his girlfriend on September 27 at his residence in Ojo Encino.

When tribal police first arrived at the scene, Castillo originally claimed the shooting was a result of a drive-by shooting but later admitted shooting the victim multiple times in the chest.

He still claimed, however, that it was an accident. At sentencing, he faces a possible 10-year prison sentence.

Man sentenced in shooting

A Sheep Springs, N.M. man was sentenced to four years in prison.

Jason Allen Hunter, 46, who resides in Sheep Springs, was sentenced Monday to four years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for his conviction on assault charges.

On Nov. 14, 2012, Hunter pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. In entering his guilty plea, Hunter admitted that on May 9, 2009 he fired a shotgun at two people in a truck as it drove past him.

Three small children were in the truck when Hunter fired the shots. Hunter further admitted that, at the time he fired shots at the truck, he intended to cause those individuals bodily injury.

Hunter committed these unlawful acts near his home, which is located just outside Sheep Springs. Hunter has been in federal custody since entering his guilty plea.

Crownpoint man pleads guilty to sexual abuse

Justin Kenneth, 20, of Crownpoint, N.M., pleaded guilty last Thursday to an aggravated sexual abuse charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Kenneth will be sentenced to a federal prison term of eight to 10 years followed by a term of supervised release of five years to life to be determined by the court.

Kenneth also will be required to register as a sex offender.

Kenneth was arrested in Dec. 2010 on a criminal complaint alleging that he sexually abused a child under the age of 12.

During his plea hearing, Kenneth entered a guilty plea to a felony charging him with aggravated sexual abuse and admitted sexually abusing the child victim by touching the child's genitals.

Kenneth further admitted that he committed this crime on Oct. 6, 2010, at a residence located on the Navajo Reservation.

He will remain detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.