Kewa Pueblo Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Assault Charge
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women
ALBUQUERQUE – Ruben Cheykaychi, 35, an enrolled member and resident of Kewa Pueblo, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to an assault charge.
The BIA arrested Cheykaychi in May 2017, on an indictment charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm. According to the indictment, Cheykaychi committed the crime on April 20, 2016, on the Kewa Pueblo Indian Reservation in Sandoval County, N.M.
During today’s proceedings, Cheykaychi pled guilty to the indictment and admitted assaulting his ex-girlfriend on April 20, 2016, after seeing her vehicle parked in an area of Kewa Pueblo. In his plea agreement, Cheykaychi stated that, after a failed attempt to engage her in conversation, he became upset and began yelling at the victim. Cheykaychi admitted retrieving a BB gun, which resembled a real handgun, from his vehicle and holding it to the victim’s head while threatening to shoot her. He also admitted putting the BB gun in the victim’s mouth while continuing to yell at her and threatening her, and attempting to take her car keys from her to prevent her from escaping.
At sentencing, Cheykaychi faces a maximum penalty of ten years in federal prison. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by Southern Pueblos Agency of the BIA, Office of Justice Services. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Marshall is prosecuting the case 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 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.