Bloomfield Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Involuntary Manslaugher Charge
ALBUQUERQUE – This morning in federal court, Jasper Fernandez, 39, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Bloomfield, N.M., entered a guilty plea to a felony information charging him with involuntary manslaughter under a plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office.
Fernandez was arrested on Feb. 22, 2012, on a criminal complaint charging him with the Nov. 4, 2011, murder of a 36-year-old Navajo woman on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
During today’s plea hearing, Fernandez admitted that he killed the victim while defending himself from a physical assault by the victim. According to the plea agreement, Fernandez and the victim were both intoxicated when the victim began kicking and punching Fernandez because he criticized her. Fernandez, who lost a tooth as a result of the assault, pushed the victim away too hard and caused her to hit her head against the door pillar of a vehicle and die. Fernandez acknowledged that instead of seeking medical attention for the victim or contacting the police, he attempted to conceal his crime by burying the victim’s remains.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Fernandez will be sentenced to a prison term of time served. Fernandez remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
The case was investigated by the Albuquerque and Farmington offices of the FBI, the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety and San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers.