Man arrested in shooting of woman

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

SHIPROCK, Nov. 14, 2013

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A Shiprock, N.M., man wanted for the Oct. 10 shooting of a woman at a housing complex on the Navajo Indian Reservation has been arrested, according to an Albuquerque FBI news release.

Patrick Lynn Benally, 25, was arrested by U.S. Marshals near Morgan Lake on the Navajo Reservation on Nov. 8, 2013. Benally is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque on Nov. 12, 2013.

A federal arrest warrant charges Benally with assault resulting in serious bodily injury, assault with a dangerous weapon, use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of a violence, and offense in Indian Country.

Benally is accused of shooting a woman in the face in Fruitland, N.M. The woman was treated at a hospital, but her identity and whereabouts are not being released.

The FBI offered a $1,500 reward for Benally's arrest and conviction. The Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety and San Juan County Sheriff's Office are assisting with this investigation.

Further details will not be released until after Benally's court appearance.

District judge denies charges of misconduct

WINDOW ROCK - A Navajo district court judge on administrative leave after allegations of misconduct says he is not guilty of the charges.

The judge, Roy J. Tso, who was assigned to Kayenta, was placed on leave on Oct. 7 after the Navajo Office of the Prosecutor filed a motion asking him not to hear any case involving that office.

The reason: The prosecutor's office is conducting an investigation into allegations that he tried to bribe Shiprock prosecutor Ruby Benally with $750 to drop criminal charges against Tso's sister and niece.

Tso, in a press release, said he felt that the accusations stemmed from friction that existed between him and the tribe's chief prosecutor, Bernadine Martin.

He said he plans to take his case to members of the Navajo Nation Council with the hope that they will return him to the bench.

Rape charge against NM man dismissed

WINDOW ROCK - The rape case against John Chee, 40, of Sheep Springs was dismissed Thursday by New Mexico District Court Judge Grant Foutz.

Chee had been on trial for two days for the rape of a 46-year-old Ganado man behind the Comfort Inn in Gallup in November 2012. The victim said Chee offered him some alcohol and then forced him to have sex.

The trial was in its third day when Chee's defense attorney, Steve Seeger, asked for the charge to be dismissed for a number of reasons, including claims that prosecutors failed to provide the defense with evidence in a timely manner.

Gertrude Lee, the lead prosecutor in the case, said the evidence in question dealt with results of DNA testing that was done. She said the test results found no DNA from Chee on the victim.

She also pointed out that Chee has not denied having sex with the victim. He does, however, say it was consensual.

After the two sides spent about an hour arguing the motion, Foutz just said that the case was dismissed without explaining why.

Chee had been incarcerated in the McKinley County Adult Detention Center since last November when he failed to make bond.

District Attorney Karl Gillson said his office is looking at appealing the decision.

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