Navajo Man from Shiprock Pleads Guilty to Second-Degree Murder Charge
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native America Women
ALBUQUERQUE – Jerry Johnson, Jr., 56, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Shiprock, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to a second-degree murder charge. Johnson entered the guilty plea under a plea agreement that recommends that he be sentenced to a prison term within the range of 129 to 161 months followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.
Johnson was arrested in July 2017, by the FBI on a criminal complaint alleging that he murdered a Navajo woman on the Navajo Indian Reservation in San Juan County, N.M. According to the complaint, on June 26, 2017, Johnson struck the victim in the head with his fist, and then retrieved a knife and stabbed her in the back. Johnson later was indicted on a murder charge on Dec. 20, 2017.
During today’s proceedings, Johnson pled guilty to the indictment charging him with second-degree murder. In entering the guilty plea, Johnson admitted that on June 26, 2017, he killed the victim by hitting her, and when she was laying down, stabbing her once in the back with a kitchen knife. Johnson remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI and the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer M. Rozzoni is prosecuting the case.
This case was brought 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 American 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.