Red Valley man found guilty of killing

PHOENIX, July 17, 2014

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On July 9, Joe Arviso Benally, 51, of Red Valley, Ariz., was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and use (discharge) of a firearm in a crime of violence by a federal jury following a trial, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.

The defendant was remanded into custody after trial pending sentencing on Sept. 29.

The evidence at trial showed that the defendant, after an argument with the victim, retrieved his .270 caliber hunting rifle, loaded it, and shot the victim in the chest, killing him.

A conviction for involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 8 years, a $250,000 fine, or both. A conviction for use (discharge) of a firearm in a crime of violence carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years, consecutive to the punishment for the crime of violence.

The investigation into this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety.

Shiprock man pleads guilty to assault

ALBUQUERQUE -- Thomas Navaho, 21, of Shiprock, pleaded guilty Monday in federal district court to a federal assault charge under a plea agreement, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.

Navaho was arrested March 4 on a criminal complaint charging him with assault and subsequently was charged in a two-count indictment with assault resulting in serious bodily injury and assault with a dangerous weapon.

According to court filings, Navaho assaulted the victim, another Navajo man, on Feb. 22 on the Navajo Reservation.

During Monday's hearing, Navaho entered a guilty plea to Count 1 of the indictment charging him with assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Navaho admitted that on Feb. 22 he initiated the assault by choking the victim while he was asleep. Navaho continued his assault on the victim during a physical altercation, during which the victim sustained injuries that required medical attention.

Navaho has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing. At sentencing, Navaho faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced.

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