Shiprock man found guilty of manslaughter

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK, July 18, 2013

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A Shiprock man, accused of killing his neighbor and wounding two other people in July 2010, was found guilty by a federal jury in Albuquerque Friday.

Clay Mann, 28, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Because a firearm was used in the commission of the killing and assaults, Mann faces a mandatory sentence of 35 years in prison in addition to a maximum eight years for the manslaughter charge and 10 years each on the assault charges.

The evidence in the trial showed that Mann was drinking beer and shooting off fireworks in the early morning hours of July 24, 2010 when one of the fireworks went into the yard of his neighbor, Ames Joseph Jim Jr, 36.

Jim was having a social get-together with about 10 of his friends at the time and he and two of them, Paula Nez, 43, and Mark Bolding, 48, headed to Mann's house.

Mann later told FBI agents that when he saw them coming he picked up a rifle and fired a warning shot. When Jim kept coming. Mann fired at the three, killing Jim and wounding the other two.

After that he fled the scene in his car, which was found a couple of miles away a later. Mann, according to the arrest report, was inside the vehicle asleep.

The trial took five days. He was acquitted of another firearms charge and two other assault charges.

No sentencing date has been scheduled yet.

Man faces 10 for unlawful possession of shotgun

WINDOW ROCK – Joe Herrera, Jr., 43, of Thoreau pleaded guilty Thursday in federal district court in Albuquerque to unlawfully possessing a sawed-off shotgun that was not registered to him under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Herrera was indicted in Feb. 2013, on the charge to which he pleaded guilty Thursday morning. According to the indictment, Herrera unlawfully possessed the unregistered sawed off shotgun on Aug. 16, 2011, in McKinley County. Herrera admitted committing the offense when he entered his guilty plea this morning.

At sentencing, Herrera faces a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in federal prison. He remains on conditions of release under pretrial supervision pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

Shiprock resident pleads guilty to assault charges

WINDOW ROCK – Brian Williams, 21, of Shiprock, pleaded guilty July 11 to a federal assault charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque.

Williams was arrested on Jan. 13, 2013, based on a criminal complaint charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon after he brandished a firearm at and threatened two carhops, who were working at a Sonic Restaurant in Shiprock.

During last Thursday's proceedings, Williams admitted assaulting two women at the Sonic Restaurant in Shiprock on Jan. 12, 2013, by pointing a semi-automatic pistol at them and telling them to "watch out" because he would be back. According to his plea agreement, Williams assaulted the victims because he was upset over his beverage order.

Williams has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Williams faces a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in prison.

Man drowns in Navajo Lake

FARMINGTON – The San Juan County Fire Department said Monday that a Farmington man, Travis Benally, 28, drowned at Navajo Lake on Sunday.

The downing occurred about 1 p.m.

Benally's 10-year-old nephew told park officials that his uncle went swimming and dive underwater and never came up or came back to shore.

Fire officials said the search for the victim was hampered by thunderstorms in the afternoon but the body was recovered about 7 p.m. near where he was last seen.

Police seek information on death of brothers

Gallup police are looking for information about the murders of two men, Oran Benally, 42, and Orlan Benally, 46, both brothers living in the Gallup area.

Their bodies were found Sunday morning under the wheelchair ramp at the Native Bible Fellowship Church, 405 W. Morgan Street.

Both died of blunt force trauma, according to police, and were last seen leaving NCI Saturday morning.

Anyone with any information on their activities after that or information dealing with their murder are asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 505-722-6161.

Callers do not have to give their name and if their tip results in the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the deaths, the caller may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Four arrested for vehicle theft

GALLUP - A vehicle that was stolen early Sunday morning in Newcomb was later recovered in Gallup. Police arrested four – one female and three males - for the theft.

Arrested were:

* Monique Calabara, 31, of Navajo,?N.M.- receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle.

* Rudy Kinsel, 33, of Gallup - receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle and resisting, evading or obstructing a police officer.

* Mathias Joe, 26, of Ganado - receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle and resisting, evading or obstructing a police officer.

* Bryan L. Hosteen, 30, of Mentmore - resisting, evading or obstructing a police officer.

John Begay, who said it was stolen about 8 a.m., reported the theft to Navajo police. He identified the person who stole the vehicle as a female with long hair.

The vehicle was found about 8 p.m. that day in the parking lot of Albertson's Supermarket on U.S. Highway 66 in Gallup. Gallup police reported four individuals in the vehicle.

The driver, Calabara, was ordered out of the car and as she got out, the other three ran from the vehicle and were captured by police.