Non-Native Man from Farmington Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Navajo Woman
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women
ALBUQUERQUE – John Gabriel Fierro, 26, a non-Native man who resides in Farmington, N.M., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to an assault charge.
Fierro was arrested in Oct. 2015, on a criminal complaint charging him with assaulting an Indian woman and causing her serious bodily injury. He subsequently was indicted on the same charge in Nov. 2015. According to court filings, Fierro assaulted his girlfriend, a Navajo woman, in the early hours of Sept. 4, 2015, by kicking her and hitting her in the head. The victim suffered serious injuries which required that she be hospitalized for treatment.
During today’s change of plea hearing, Fierro plead guilty to the indictment and admitted forcibly striking his girlfriend about the face, head and body with his hands and feet.Fierro acknowledged that the victim, a Navajo woman, was hospitalized to receive treatment for the multiple injuries she sustained as a result of the assault.The victim’s injuries included multiple rib fractures, a mild left pneumothorax associated with the rib fractures and multiple fractures to her thoracic vertebrae.Fierro further admitted that he committed the assault near the Navajo Agricultural Products Incorporated (NAPI), which is within the Navajo Indian Reservation.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Fierro will be sentenced to 24 months in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. He also will be required to pay restitution to the victim. Fierro 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 Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorney Niki Tapia-Brito 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 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.