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Press Release

Federal jury convicts Navajo man of manslaughter

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

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A federal jury on March 10 returned a guilty verdict on Brian Tony, 50, of Gallup, New Mexico. The jury found Tony guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

Tony, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, was arrested on June 3, 2016, on a criminal complaint charging him with killing a man by stabbing him in the head and neck and hitting him with a hammer. Tony killed the victim on the Navajo Nation in McKinley County, New Mexico, on May 9, 2016.  At the time, Tony was on supervised release for a prior conviction on a federal assault charge.

Tony, who was accompanied by his brother and his girlfriend, drove to a residence in Gallup and picked up the victim and the victim’s friend.  While at the residence, Tony retrieved a hammer and placed it in his vehicle. Tony drove them to a location called “Superman Canyon,” where Tony and the victim got out of the vehicle and the victim was killed out of sight of the other passengers. An autopsy revealed that the victim had been stabbed repeatedly in the head and neck and had blunt-force trauma wounds on his head. 

On Aug. 8, 2017, Tony was charged in a superseding indictment with first-degree murder and two counts of witness tampering.  On Sept. 30, 2017, a jury convicted Tony of witness tampering. Following Tony’s arrest in June 2016, while he was detained at the Santa Fe County Detention Center, Tony called friends and relatives imploring them to convince a witness to leave town and to prevent him from testifying. In a number of these recorded calls, Tony can be heard attempting to dissuade his girlfriend from cooperating with law enforcement.

Tony has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has not been scheduled.  Tony faces up to 15 years in prison for the voluntary manslaughter conviction.

This case was investigated by the Gallup Resident Agency of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office and the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety. Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph M. Spindle and Nicholas J. Marshall are prosecuting the case.

Updated March 14, 2022

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime
Release Number: 22-48