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Press Release

Shiprock Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Assault Charges

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

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address
the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women

ALBUQUERQUE – Algar Horsechief, 27, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Shiprock, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to two federal assault charges.  During today’s hearing, Horsechief admitted assaulting his intimate partner by strangulation.  He also admitted assaulting another woman and causing her serious bodily injury.

Horsechief was arrested on Aug. 1, 2014, on a criminal complaint charging him with assaulting his intimate partner, a Navajo woman, by strangulation, and also with assaulting her with a dangerous weapon, a wooden stick, with intent to cause bodily harm.  Horsechief also was charged with assaulting a second victim, another Navajo woman, and causing her serious bodily injury.  According to the indictment, Horsechief committed the crimes on the Navajo Indian Reservation in San Juan County, N.M., on July 24, 2014.

On Aug. 26, 2014, Horsechief was indicted and charged with (1) assault of an intimate partner by strangulation; (2) assault with a dangerous weapon; and (3) assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

Today, Horsechief entered guilty pleas to Counts 1 and 3 of the indictment.  In his plea agreement, Horsechief admitted assaulting his intimate partner by biting her left hand, dragging her on the ground by her hair, and strangling her and impeding her breathing.  Horsechief also admitted assaulting a second victim by placing his hands around her neck and strangling her until she lost consciousness.

Horsechief has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Horsechief will be sentenced to a federal prison term within the range of 36 to 50 months, and a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

This case was investigated by the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety with assistance from the Farmington office of the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Adams.

The case was brought pursuant to 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.

Updated January 26, 2015