News and Press Releases

Jicarilla Apache Woman Sentenced to Federal
Prison for Assaulting a Navajo Woman on
the Mescalero Apache Reservation

May 23, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE – Earlier today, Heather Atole, 28, a member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, was sentenced in Las Cruces federal court to 20 months in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release for her federal assault conviction.  Atole also was ordered to pay $49,321.07 in restitution to cover the cost of medical treatment for the victim.

Atole initially was arrested by the Mescalero Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services on tribal charges on Aug. 21, 2011, based on an assault that occurred on June 27, 2011.  She subsequently was arrested by the FBI on a federal criminal complaint on Nov. 22, 2011, and was indicted on Nov. 30, 2011.  The indictment charged Atole with (1) assault with a dangerous weapon and (2) assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

According to court filings, Atole repeatedly stabbed a 28-year-old Navajo woman in the early hours of June 27, 2011, during a party at a residence located on the Mescalero Apache Reservation.  The victim sustained stab wounds to the upper torso, shoulder and back.  Atole later told law enforcement officers that she stabbed the victim because she saw the victim kiss her boyfriend.

On Sept. 11, 2012, Atole pleaded guilty to both counts of the indictment.  In entering her guilty plea, Atole admitted stabbing the victim four times with an eight-inch kitchen knife because she perceived the victim to be a romantic rival.  Atole has been in federal custody since entering her guilty plea.

This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the FBI and the Mescalero Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron O. Jordan of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

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