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Press Release

Church Rock, N.M., Man Pleads Guilty to Second Degree Murder Charge Involving Death of a Navajo Man

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

ALBUQUERQUE –Danny Dan Don Brown, 25, a member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Church Rock, N.M., pled guilty this morning to a second degree murder charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Brown and co-defendant, Melvyn Lee Morgan, 29, a member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Gallup, N.M., were charged in a criminal complaint on Dec. 4, 2011, for the Dec. 3, 2011 murder of Robert L. Smith, also a member of the Navajo Nation. According to the complaint, the murder occurred in Church Rock, which is within the Navajo Indian Reservation. Brown and Morgan were arrested on Dec. 27, 2011, and have been in federal custody since that time. The two were indicted on Jan. 24, 2012, and charged with second degree murder.

According to court records, late on the night of Dec. 3, 2011, Brown, Morgan and the victim had a fight after drinking alcohol. During the fight, Brown and Morgan repeatedly kicked and punched the victim, who died as a result of injuries he sustained.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Brown faces a sentence of not less than 12 years and not more than 15 years in prison. Brown remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

Morgan has entered a not guilty plea to the indictment. The charges in the indictment as to Morgan are only accusations and he is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the Gallup office of the FBI with assistance from the Crownpoint Division of the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety and the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers.

Updated January 26, 2015