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Court Report: Fruitland man sentenced for beating woman to death

LOS ANGELES

John Youngblood Lodgepole was sentenced last week by a federal district judge in Albuquerque to seven years in prison after he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of a woman who had been drinking beer with him.

Once he has served his sentence, he will be required to be under supervised release for three years.

The case goes back to Aug. 1, 2019, in a house south of the Nenahezad Chapter House.

Lodgepole, 22, of Fruitland, had spent the evening at the home of E.I., along with the victim, identified as M.W., 45.

E.I. later told police that Lodgepole had come to her house intoxicated and became verbally abusive toward her and M.W. throughout the evening.

She said she witnessed Lodgepole throw M.W. to the ground and kick her in the face multiple times, as well hit her with a metal bat and punch her in the face at least 10 times.

Police said he also used a cinder block to smash her head. When he noticed that she was still breathing, he placed a cinder block under her feet and struck her ankles with a cane.

Lodgepole then left the house and E.I. phoned police. When Navajo Police arrived, she gave them a description and they had no problem locating him.

A search of E.I.’s home uncovered a bloody bat and footprints in a pool of blood that matched the pattern of the shoes worn by Lodgepole.

Lodgepole has been in federal custody since his arrest. An autopsy later found M.W. with three major wounds to her head, one of which fractured her skull.

Man sentenced to 10 years for shooting (sub)

Eli Woody, arrested in 2019 for his involvement in a drive-by shooting that injured two children in Crownpoint, was sentenced last week to 10 years in federal prison.

According to the complaint, C.F., the children’s mother, told Navajo Police she was sitting outside her house in the low-income housing area of Crownpoint when she saw a green pickup truck stop in front of her house.

She said she saw a man stick his head out the passenger side of the pickup. He had a shotgun and fired five shots in the direction of her house.

Shortly after the pickup sped away, two of her children, a boy aged 14 and another boy aged eight, came to her complaining they had been hit in the legs. They were taken to a local hospital.

When Navajo Police arrived on the scene, they received a description of the suspect vehicle and immediately began searching for it in the Crownpoint area. Among the people they talked to was a security guard at Navajo Technical University.

The guard told them he had seen Eli Woody, Wacey Woody and Shawnee Woody driving a green pickup earlier in the day.

When police went to the Woody residence, they found a green pickup in the driveway. They found two spent shotgun shells on the ground near the pickup.

The next day police showed the mother of the two boys photos of the three Woodys and she identified Eli Woody, 27, as the one who fired the shotgun.

Eli Woody had signed a plea agreement admitting guilt to discharging a firearm in an act of violence. In the plea, he admitted that he knew the house was occupied when he fired the shotgun in that direction.

If found guilty, the two charges of use of a firearm during an act of violence could each have given Woody a sentence of 10 years to life.

By signing the agreement, the prosecution said it would recommend a 10-year sentence as punishment.

After his release from prison, he will be required to be under supervised release for five years.

3-month search ends with arrest

A three-month search by the Navajo Police and the FBI ended last week with the arrest in Gamerco, New Mexico, of Josiah Alan Smith, 27, for the May 17 murder of a Church Rock man.

The FBI had been looking for information about the death of Daniel D. Deschene, 28, on that date in Superman Canyon, which is located within the boundaries of the Church Rock Chapter.

What the FBI was actually looking for was the whereabouts of Smith since several people who were there at the time Deschene died had already given their accounts of that day to FBI officers.

Witnesses told the FBI that Deschene and Smith had a falling out that day. One witness said she was at Deschene’s house that afternoon when Smith showed up with a gun, according to the criminal complaint filed against Smith in June.

She said the two had been talking in the residence when she saw them leave through the back door. She said she then heard a gunshot and then heard Smith tell Deschene that “he was going to get him next time.”

She said she went outside and saw the two confronting each other. She said she told Smith to leave and then told Deschene to leave Smith alone.

Deschene then came back into the house and went to his bedroom. She had gone to the restroom when she heard two more gunshots. She went into the bedroom where she saw “Smith standing outside the bedroom window pointing a gun into the bedroom.”

She said she told Smith to leave and he said, “No, no, no.” Then he left the area.

The witness said the gun had a grey handle with a long barrel. Once Smith left, she said she saw Deschene laying on the ground.

Another witness told the FBI that Smith had come to the house looking for a man who was involved in methamphetamine.

Smith was told the man was not there. A little later she heard two gunshots and then went into the bedroom and saw Deschene laying on the floor. She tried to resuscitate him but could not.

Navajo Police then began searching for Smith but he could not be found.

Smith is currently being held in federal custody in Albuquerque.

Farmington man sentenced for sexual abuse of child

A Farmington man was sentenced last week in federal court in Albuquerque to eight years and two months after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of a minor.

Larry Nathaniel, 65, said in his plea agreement that he had been invited in February of 2019 to stay overnight at a friend’s house.

He said that during the night, he walked into the bedroom of the family’s 10-year-old daughter and held her down while he touched her inappropriately.

Nathaniel was arrested in November of 2019.

If found guilty of the crime, Nathaniel could have faced life in prison.

Prosecutors in the case recommended to the court a prison sentence of five to 10 years.

After his release, he will be required to be under supervised probation for five years and register as a sex offender.


About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.

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