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Press Release

Tohono O'odham Nation Member Sentenced to 46 Months After Strangling His Girlfriend

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. – Last week, Merrell Derek Steve Felix, 40, of Tucson, Arizona, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps to 46 months in prison. Felix previously pleaded guilty to Assault by Strangulation committed on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation.

On October 6, 2017, near Sells, Arizona, Felix, an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, assaulted his girlfriend by strangling her. The investigation began after United States Border Patrol agents encountered Felix and the victim at an immigration checkpoint on Highway 86 just outside of Sells. A Border Patrol agent noticed that the victim had been crying and inquired about her well-being. Felix told the agents that the victim was fine, but the victim mouthed the word, “help.” The victim had visible bruising on her neck and face, and later told law enforcement that Felix had strangled her with both of his hands and a lanyard. The victim is also an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Nation.  

The Tohono O’odham Police Department, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted the investigation into this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Serra M. Tsethlikai, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution.

CASE NUMBER:            CR-19-1089-TUC-JGZ
RELEASE NUMBER:    2020-078_Felix

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Updated October 1, 2020

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 2020-078_Felix