Shiprock Man Pleads Guilty to Firearms and Stalking Charges Arising from Threats Against Former Intimate Partner and her New Boyfriend
ALBUQUERQUE – Peterson Yazzie, 34, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Shiprock, N.M., pleaded guilty today to a two-count felony information charging him with discharging a firearm during a crime of violence and stalking. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Yazzie will be sentenced to eleven years in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, and Director John Billison of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.
Yazzie was arrested on April 24, 2014, on a criminal complaint alleging that he stalked his former intimate partner, a Navajo woman, by leaving numerous threatening messages in her cellphone voicemail box on April 12, 2014. In some of the messages, Yazzie threatened to shoot the victim and her new boyfriend. The criminal complaint also alleged that Yazzie assaulted the victim’s new boyfriend on April 12, 2014, by firing multiple shots at a vehicle the boyfriend was driving.
During today’s proceedings, Yazzie pled guilty to the two-count felony information. In his plea agreement, Yazzie admitted stalking his former intimate partner on April 12, 2014 by leaving messages on her cellphone voicemail box including one in which he threatened to “put a bullet in her head,” causing the victim to fear that death or seriously bodily injury would occur. Yazzie also admitted that April 12, 2014, he committed a crime of violence by using a rifle to shoot at a vehicle driven by the second victim. Yazzie acknowledged committing both crimes within Navajo Indian Reservation.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Yazzie will be sentenced to ten years in federal prison on the firearms charge and one year in prison on the stalking charge. The two sentences will be served consecutive to each other for an aggregate sentence of eleven years in prison. Yazzie has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Farmington Office of the FBI and Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David Adams.
The case was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.