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Press Release

Habitual Domestic Violence Offender from Zuni Pueblo Sentenced to Prison for Assaulting Intimate Partner

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 Women

ALBUQUERQUE – Fabian Tsethlikai, 47, a member and resident of Zuni Pueblo, N.M., was sentenced this morning in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to 21 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his conviction on a domestic assault by a habitual offender charge. 

Tsethlikai was arrested on Feb. 10, 2016, on an indictment charging him with assault of an intimate partner by a habitual offender.  The indictment alleged that Tsethlikai committed the offense on Dec. 10, 2014, on Zuni Pueblo in McKinley County, N.M.  Tsethlikai was charged as a habitual offender based on his two prior domestic violence convictions in Zuni Pueblo Tribal Court.  Zuni Pueblo Tribal Court records reflect that Tsethlikai’s prior convictions occurred in 2010 and 2011.

On May 13, 2016, Tsethlikai pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that on Dec. 10, 2014, he assaulted the victim, his intimate partner, by repeatedly striking her in the face with his fist while driving a vehicle within the Zuni Reservation.  He also acknowledged his two prior tribal court convictions.

This case was investigated by the Zuni Pueblo Tribal Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Adams 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 August 10, 2016

Indian Country Law and Justice