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Press Release

Navajo Woman Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter Charge Arising Out of Death of Isleta Pueblo Man

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Julisa Raelynn Sanchez, 20, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Peralta, N.M., pleaded guilty today to an involuntary manslaughter charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sanchez was arrested on May 22, 2013, on a criminal complaint charging her with involuntary manslaughter and assault charges arising out of a May 11, 2013, single car motor vehicle crash occurring on Isleta Pueblo lands.  She subsequently was indicted and charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

Court filings reflect that in the early hours of May 11, 2013, Sanchez lost control of the vehicle she was driving, drove the vehicle into a water-filled irrigation ditch, and slammed into a cement pillar in the Chicala lateral ditch bank in Isleta Pueblo.  At the time of the crash, there were three passengers in Sanchez’s vehicle, two of whom were seriously injured, and a third, a 26-year-old Isleta Pueblo man (victim), who was pronounced dead at the scene.  Sanchez was driving while intoxicated when the crash occurred.

Today, Sanchez entered a guilty plea to Count 1 of the indictment charging her with involuntary manslaughter.  Sanchez admitted that she killed the victim while driving while under the influence of alcohol on May 11, 2012.

Sanchez remains on conditions of release pending her sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  Sanchez faces a maximum penalty of eight years of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release and restitution as ordered by the Court.

This case was investigated by the Southern Pueblos Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle T. Nayback.

Updated January 26, 2015