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Diné convicted of murder set for execution


Lezmond Mitchell, then 20, plotted with three others to carjack a vehicle to rob a trading post on Oct. 28, 2001.

Mitchell, along with Johnny Orsinger, 16, abducted Alyce Slim, 63, and her nine-year-old granddaughter. Slim and her granddaughter were in a GMC pickup truck when they were abducted.

According to court documents, Mitchell and Orsinger stabbed Slim 33 times. Afterwards, they dragged her body into the back of the truck where they forced the granddaughter to sit beside the lifeless body.

Mitchell then drove to the Chuska Mountains where he dumped Slim’s body off.

There, the court papers state, Mitchell ordered the little girl to get out and “lay down and die.” Mitchell then cut her throat twice. When she did not die, Mitchell and Orsinger dropped a 20-pound rock on her head.

After the brutal murders, Mitchell and Orsinger dug a hole after severing the heads and hands of Slim and her granddaughter. They buried the dismembered body parts and their bodies were pulled into the woods.

Three days later, on Oct. 31, 2001, wearing masks, Mitchell, Jason Kinlicheenie and Jakegory Nakai drove to the Red Rock Trading Post in Slim’s stolen truck and robbed the trading post. They stole over $5,500.

After the robbery, they drove to an area near Wheatfields, Arizona, and set the truck on fire.

Mitchell and his accomplices were arrested in Round Rock, Arizona. On May 8, 2003, Mitchell was convicted in federal court on 11 counts, including two counts of first-degree murder, carjacking resulting in death and multiple counts of robbery.

Court papers state that at the time of his conviction, the two murders were not punishable by death because they were committed on the Navajo Nation. The tribe outlaws the death penalty.

However, in 2015 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Court said that while the murders were based on the Major Crimes Act, the carjacking resulting in death was not. Therefore, the death penalty would apply under that conviction regardless of where it was committed.

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to adopt changes to the federal execution protocol, which would clear the way to resume capital punishment. Barr directed the acting director of BOP, Hugh Hurwitz, to schedule the executions of five death-row inmates.

“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the president,” Barr said. “Under the administration of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers … “

Along with Mitchell, those scheduled for execution in December are Daniel Lewis Lee, Wesley Ira Purkey, Alfred Bourgeois and Dustin Lee Honken.

 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

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