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Press Release

Navajo Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Involuntary Manslaughter and Assault Charges

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Joshua Rakestraw, 24, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Farmington, N.M., pled guilty on Friday in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to involuntary manslaughter and assault charges.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Rakestraw will be sentenced to 48 months in prison followed by up to three years of supervised release.

Rakestraw was arrested on Nov. 3, 2014, on a criminal complaint charging him with killing a Navajo woman and assaulting a Navajo man, causing him to suffer serious bodily injury, on Oct. 28, 2014.  The complaint alleged that Rakestraw committed these crimes while under the influence of alcohol in Indian Country in San Juan County, N.M.  According to court filings, Rakestraw killed one victim and seriously injured the other victim by running over them with his vehicle at Morgan Lake, south of Kirtland, N.M.  At the time, Rakestraw was under the influence of alcohol.

During his change of plea hearing, Rakestraw pled guilty to a felony information charging him with involuntary manslaughter and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.  In entering the guilty plea, Rakestraw admitted that on Oct. 28, 2014, at Morgan Lake he drove his truck forward, striking both victims as he drove his truck over them.  One of the victims died and the other victim suffered several injuries including a dislocated hip and a broken rib.

Rakestraw has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending a 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.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Shammara Henderson is prosecuting the case.

Updated June 22, 2015