Navajo man pleads guilty to federal murder charge
ALBUQUERQUE -- United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that, this morning, Patrick Baptiste, 51, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, entered a guilty plea to a one-count information charging him with second degree murder before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi. In his plea agreement, Baptiste admitted to killing Kathleen Francisco, a 71-year-old Navajo woman, within the boundaries of the Navajo Indian Reservation on May 24, 2010. Baptiste remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Baptiste will be sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment to be followed by at least five years of supervised release.
According to the criminal complaint, on May 24, 2010, Ms. Francisco picked Baptiste in her pickup truck to run errands. At approximately 2:00 p.m., the two stopped by the hogan of Baptiste's cousin. While there, Baptiste became upset at his cousin and vandalized his cousin's truck. While this occurred, Ms. Francisco remained waiting in the driver’s seat of her truck. Baptiste returned to the truck and attacked Ms. Francisco by repeatedly striking her in the face with a closed fist. He admitted striking Ms. Francisco so hard that he knocked out her dentures and broke her eyeglasses. Baptiste then pulled Ms. Francisco into the passenger's seat of the truck and drove to cousin's residence, which was located near his hogan. Leaving Ms. Franciscoin the truck, Baptiste entered his cousin’s residence, displayed his bloody hands and clothes, and offered to show Ms. Francisco’s body to his cousin. When the cousin refused to look inside the truck, Baptiste said that he was going to call the police.
According to the plea agreement, instead of calling to police, Baptiste drove to the residence of another family members, arriving at approximately 4:00, and asked him if he wanted to see Ms. Francisco. The family member came out of his house to look at Ms. Francisco, who was lying face down across the truck's passenger seat. Baptiste told the family member that he was going to go to the chapter house to contact the police. Instead, Baptiste drove to his mother’s residence where both his brothers also reside. Baptiste asked one of his brothers to call “911" but learned that the telephone was not in working order. Baptiste left after telling his brother that he would call “911" from another location.
In his plea agreement, Baptiste admitted that, while he was driving around to the three foregoing locations, Ms. Francisco was making gurgling noises and struggling to breathe. Instead of calling “911,” Baptiste drove to Whiskey Lake, arriving there at around 5:00 p.m. At the time, Ms. Francisco was still alive but continued to struggle to breathe. Baptiste admitted parking the truck near a hogan at Whiskey Lake, opening the passenger-side door, and pulling Ms. Francisco out of the truck onto the ground by her hair. Baptiste then punched her with a closed fist numerous times, and kicked her at least 4 times. Baptiste left Ms. Francisco on the ground by the hogan, and drove off in her truck. He did not contact the police.
The complaint alleges that Ms. Francisco’s lifeless body was discovered by her relatives the following morning, May 25, 2010.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety – Crownpoint Division, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shana B. Pennington.