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Press Release

Shiprock Man Pleads Guilty to Aiding and Abetting an Armed Robbery on the Navajo Indian Reservation

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Nielson McKensley, 49, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Shiprock, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to an indictment charging him with aiding and abetting an armed robbery in Indian Country.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, McKensley will be sentenced to a term of 46 to 57 months in prison.

McKensley was arrested on Nov. 13, 2012, on a criminal complaint charging him with being an accomplice to an armed robbery of a residence in Shiprock on Oct. 26, 2012.  He subsequently was indicted on that same charge.

According to court records, McKensley agreed to assist Randy Coolidge, 46, rob the residence of an acquaintance (victim) in the early hours of Oct. 27, 2012, by driving Coolidge to the residence and helping him with the robbery.  After putting duct tape over his face to conceal his identity, Coolidge approached the residence armed with a pistol.  As Coolidge tried to push his way into the residence, the victim attempted to take the pistol away from Coolidge.  As the two men fought over the pistol, the pistol discharged and Coolidge was shot in the chest and stomach.  Coolidge subsequently died of his wounds.  The victim then realized that another man (McKensley), whose face also was covered with black duct tape and who was armed with a steel pipe, was standing by his door.  After attempting unsuccessfully to drag Coolidge from the residence, McKensley left Coolidge behind and drove away.  Officers initiated the investigation leading to McKensley’s arrest after Coolidge’s body was found shortly thereafter.

During today’s plea hearing, McKensley admitted driving Coolidge to the victim’s residence knowing that Coolidge intended to take items of value from the victim by force and violence.  McKensley also admitted that he intended to help Coolidge rob the victim. 

McKensley has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by Albuquerque and Farmington offices of the FBI and the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark T. Baker.

Updated January 26, 2015