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Press Release

Crownpoint Man Sentenced to Ten Years for Federal Assault Conviction Arising from Ax Attack

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native America Women

ALBUQUERQUE – Edwin C. Johnson, 36, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Crownpoint, N.M., was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to 120 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his assault conviction.  The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez and Director Jesse Delmar of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.

 “This case and others like it are important reminders on why we must continue to work together to address the disproportionately high rates of violent crimes against Native American women and children,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez.  “I commend the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety for an outstanding investigation that made the defendant account for his criminal conduct and helped the victim and her family move forward with their course of healing.”

 Director Jesse Delmar of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety said, “The Navajo Nation is very grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement officers in Crownpoint for pursuing this case and bringing justice to the victim.” 

Johnson was arrested on Dec. 9, 2015, on a criminal complaint charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon.  According to the complaint, Johnson assaulted his girlfriend, a San Carlos Apache woman, with an ax on Dec. 7, 2015.  The victim suffered a gash about four centimeters long and bloody discharge from both ears; she also experienced cranial pressure and swelling.  Because the victim’s injuries were life threatening, she was flown by helicopter to the trauma hospital at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.

Johnson was subsequently indicted on Dec. 17, 2015, and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, an ax, with intent to do bodily harm, assault resulting in serious bodily injury, and attempt to commit murder.  The indictment alleged that Johnson committed the crime on Dec. 7, 2015, in Indian Country in McKinley County, N.M.  On Jan. 25, 2016, Johnson pled guilty to all three charges. 

This case was investigated by the Crownpoint office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Adams.

This case was brought as part of 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 American 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 May 5, 2016

Indian Country Law and Justice