Fruitland, N.M., Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Voluntary Manslaughter and Assault Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Jason Yazzie, 31, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Fruitland, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to voluntary manslaughter and assault charged. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Yazzie will be sentenced to a federal prison sentence within the range of 20 to 25 years.
Yazzie was arrested on Aug. 6, 2013, based on a criminal complaint alleging that he killed a two-year-old Navajo child on Aug. 2, 2013, in a location within the Navajo Indian Reservation.
During today’s proceedings, Yazzie entered a guilty plea to a felony information charging him with voluntary manslaughter and assault resulting in serious bodily injury charges. In his plea agreement, Yazzie admitted that on Aug. 2, 2013, he became extremely frustrated with the victim, who had been left in his care, and repeatedly struck the victim about the torso, causing the victim to sustain severe chest and abdominal injuries. Yazzie also admitted that he threw the victim approximately five feet in the air and across the room, causing the victim to sustain severe head and neck trauma. Yazzie admitted that he acted in frustration and in the heat of passion and that his actions caused the victim’s death.
Yazzie has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI and the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Niki Tapia-Brito.