News and Press Releases

Guilty Pleas Entered by Three Defendants For
June 2001 Murder at Walker River Indian Reservation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 13, 2002

Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, announces that the third and final defendant has pleaded guilty in United States District Court in Reno to charges related to his involvement in the June 13, 2001 murder of Gerald Williams on the Walker River Indian Reservation.

JAMES LUIS PLAZA, JR., age 26, a resident of Schurz, Nevada, pleaded guilty in Reno yesterday before U.S. District Court Judge Edward C. Reed, Jr., to Accessory After the Fact, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 3. PLAZA, JR. is scheduled to be sentenced on March 10, 2003, and is facing a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years. Two other defendants pleaded guilty on October 9, 2002. Defendant EUGENE MICHAEL WOOD, age 29, a resident of Schurz, Nevada, pleaded guilty to Murder in the Second Degree, violations of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1111, 1151, and 1153; and defendant DARLA RAE WOOD, age 40, a resident of Schurz, Nevada, pleaded guilty to False Statements, a violation of Title 18, United States Code 1001.

According to the court records, on June 13, 2001, DARLA RAE WOOD drove EUGENE WOOD and JAMES PLAZA, JR. to Gerald Williams' house on the Walker River Indian Reservation in Schurz, Nevada. DARLA RAE WOOD stayed in the vehicle, while EUGENE WOOD and JAMES PLAZA, JR. walked up to the house and kicked in the front door. EUGENE WOOD and PLAZA, JR. entered the house, and WOOD shot and killed the victim with a 22-caliber handgun. WOOD and PLAZA, JR. then exited the house, and got back in the car with DARLA RAE WOOD, who drove them away from the scene. On or about the same day as the murder, PLAZA, JR. helped EUGENE WOOD dispose of the firearm used in the murder and later made false statements to law enforcement regarding his knowledge of the murder. On July 25, 2001, DARLA RAE WOOD told two Bureau of Indian Affairs Special Agents that she had no knowledge of the murder.

EUGENE WOOD is facing a statutory maximum period of imprisonment of life and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 6, 2003; DARLA RAE WOOD is facing a statutory maximum period of imprisonment of five years and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 13, 2003. All three defendants will be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Reed. All defendants in federal court are sentenced in accordance with the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors and typically result in sentences much less than the statutory maximums.

The case was investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Agents of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Walker River Reservation Tribal Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami.

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