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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bloomfield Man Sentenced to Forty-Six Months for Involuntary Manslaughter Conviction

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Jasper Fernandez, 40, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Bloomfield, N.M., was sentenced this morning in federal court in Santa Fe, N.M., to 46 months in federal prison for his involuntary manslaughter conviction.  Fernandez will be on supervised release for three years after completing his prison sentence.  Fernandez also was ordered to pay $1,324.16 in restitution to cover funeral expenses for the victim.

Fernandez was arrested on Feb. 22, 2012, on a criminal complaint charging him with the Nov. 4, 2011, murder of a 36-year-old Navajo woman on the Navajo Indian Reservation.  Fernandez entered a guilty plea on Dec. 22, 2014 to a felony information charging him with involuntary manslaughter.  During the plea hearing, Fernandez admitted that he killed the victim while defending himself from a physical assault by the victim. 

According to court filings, Fernandez and the victim were both intoxicated when the victim began kicking and punching Fernandez because he criticized her.  Fernandez, who lost a tooth as a result of the assault, pushed the victim away too hard and caused her to hit her head against the door pillar of a vehicle and die.  In his plea agreement, Fernandez acknowledged that instead of seeking medical attention for the victim or contacting the police, he attempted to conceal his crime by burying the victim’s remains.

The case was investigated by the Albuquerque and Farmington offices of the FBI, the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety and San Juan County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers prosecuted the case.

This case was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project 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.

Updated January 26, 2015