Court Cases | Man pleads guilty to Kayenta murder
Ronald A. Gray has been given a sentence of more than 7 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the July 2018 death of another Kayenta resident, identified as L.B. in court records.
Gray was initially charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder along with Charlaine Begay and Charles Clyde Boone. John Nelson Begay was charged with burglary.
L.B.’s wife, K.B., told police that the last time she saw her husband was the morning of July 27, 2018, when he drove to a carpool pick-up site to get transportation to her job in Tuba City.
When she arrived back in Kayenta after getting off work, L.B. was supposed to pick her up, but he was not at the site. She tried to contact him on his cell phone but got no answer.
She said that a few hours later, Begay showed up at her residence with two other men.
Begay told her that her husband was passed out in his pickup truck that was parked in front of her house. She went outside and saw the truck, but she did not see her husband in the truck. When she went back to her house, the truck drove off.
When she got back to her house, she discovered that her cell phone and iPad had been stolen.
At about the same time, C. Begay’s mother said she was informed by an individual identified in court records as S.Y. who told her that Boone had severely beat up L.B. and tied him up, probably killing him.
So, she headed to Boone’s house. Next door, she saw L.B.’s truck. When she looked inside, she saw a large pool of blood on one of the seats, and she took a photograph of it.
She knew where Boone was located, and she went there and informed him that he had done a terrible thing. Boone told her to go away, so she went back to Boone’s house, looked inside the vehicle again, and discovered that someone had tried to clean up the blood.
C. Begay and her mother went to the Navajo Police to report that L.B. was missing. L.B.’s family also made a report.
The family went on social media and posted requests for people to report if they saw L.B. or knew what happened to him.
Police found the truck on Aug. 2 and noticed that someone tried to clean up a puddle of blood on one of the seats. L.B.’s whereabouts were still unknown.
On Aug. 8, Chinle police reported that they had discovered human remains, which was later found to belong to L.B. His remains were covered partially in a sleeping bag.
The following day, police interviewed a man who said he witnessed Boone strike L.B. and knock him out. The witness said Boone ordered C. Begay and Gray to tie him up and place him in the truck.
He said Boone took out a capsule and poured water in it. He then gave the mixture to C. Begay and told her to have L.B. drink it. She later came back and told Boone she had done it.
A little time later, Boone told her to go to the truck and see how L.B. was doing. She came back and reported that he was dead. Boone then told Begay they were her and Gray’s mess, so they needed to clean the body and get rid of it.
The FBI found another witness who said he went to Boone’s that night and was told to go outside with C. Begay to check on L.B.’s condition. He said he saw L.B. tied up, and when he removed the restraints, the hands felt limp, and he thought he was dead.
Boone, Gray and C. Begay were arrested. John Nelson Begay was arrested a short time later.
These cases have been winding their way through federal court for almost four years.
Gray entered a guilty plea in November 2019. His sentencing date was postponed eight times because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The prosecution in a sentencing memo recommended a six-and-a-half-years sentence which they said would be less than either Boone or Begay would receive.
They took this position noting his involvement was more limited than Boone or Begay. They also pointed out that Gray did not participate in the burglary of L.B.’s house. Two other factors in his factor, they said, he had no criminal record and suffered from significant health problems.
The judge gave him credit for time served, so he is now in the fourth year of incarceration. Once released, he is to serve five years of supervised probation.
John Nelson Begay’s only involvement with this case was given in connection with the burglary of the house. He pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and burglary.
He admitted he witnessed Boone beating up K.B. but took no part. He admitted that he went with the others to burglarize K.B.’s house. He was sentenced to time served and was released in November 2021.
C. Begay received a sentence of 15 years. Boone received a sentence of 17 years.