News and Press Releases

Habitual Domestic Violence Offender Sentenced to
Seventy Months for Assaulting Pregnant Girlfriend

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address
the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE – Tayah Edwards, 41, was sentenced this morning to 70 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for his conviction on assault charges.  The sentence 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.

Edwards, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Cudei, N.M., was arrested in Aug. 2013, based on a criminal complaint alleging that he assaulted his domestic partner with dangerous weapons, including a stick, a knife and a rock.  According to court filings, the assault occurred at a location within the Navajo Indian Reservation on Aug. 20, 2013.  The victim, who was pregnant, sustained numerous injuries, including a compound fracture to her left leg, a large scalp laceration and multiple contusions, as a result of the assault.   

On November 12, 2013, Edwards pled guilty to a felony information charging him with assault resulting in serious bodily injury and domestic assault by a habitual offender.   Edwards admitted assaulting his intimate partner by striking her in the head and face numerous times and hitting her repeatedly with a stick and a rock.  In his plea agreement, Edwards acknowledged that the victim, who was 35 weeks pregnant with the couple’s child at the time of the assault, sustained serious injuries as a result of the assault.  Edwards also admitted that he previously has been convicted on at least two occasions for assaulting his spouse or intimate partner in Utah state courts.

This case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI and the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.  The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David Adams pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women, and 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.

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