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Press Release

Laguna Pueblo Man Sentenced to Prison for Assault by Strangulation Conviction

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 – Robert T. Maestas, 26, an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo who resides in Paguate, N.M., was sentenced this morning in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., for his conviction on an assault by strangulation charge.  Maestas will serve a 33-month prison term followed by three years of supervised release.


Maestas was arrested on March 17, 2017, on a criminal complaint charging him with domestic assault by a habitual offender and assault of an intimate partner by strangulation.  According to the complaint, Maestas assaulted the victim on Feb. 10, 2017, in the Laguna Pueblo within Cibola County, N.M., by holding her neck against a car door with his forearm prohibiting her from breathing, and by striking her on the chest and shoulder.


Maestas was indicted on March 28, 2017, and was charged with domestic assault by a habitual offender and assault of an intimate partner by strangulation or suffocating.  According to the indictment, Maestas previously was convicted in the Laguna Tribal Court of domestic violence offenses in Dec. 2011 and Jan. 2012.


On June 6, 2017, Maestas pled guilty to Count 2 of the indictment charging him with assaulting an intimate partner by strangulation.  In entering the guilty plea, Maestas admitted that on Feb. 10, 2017, after brandishing a shotgun at the victim, he assaulted her by grabbing her throat with his hand and applying pressure to cause pain, striking her rib and chest area, and using his forearm to apply pressure to her neck prohibiting her from breathing.  Maestas acknowledged that the victim suffered physical pain as well as bruising and marks to her forearms, neck, chest and shoulder as the result of the assault. 


This case was investigated by the Laguna/Acoma Agency of the BIA Office of Justice Services and the Pueblo of Laguna Tribal Police Department.  Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lucy B. Solimon prosecuted the case 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 September 21, 2017

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime