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Press Release

Shiprock Man Sentenced to Thirty Years in Federal Prison for Conviction on Three Second Degree Murder Charges

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

Tillman Naskia Begaye Killed a Mother and her Two Adult
Children while Driving under the Influence of Alcohol

ALBUQUERQUE –Tillman Naskia Begaye, 33, was sentenced on Friday afternoon (Nov. 21, 2014) to 30 years in federal prison for his conviction on three counts of second degree murder.  Begaye will be on supervised release for five years after completing his prison sentence.  The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division, and Director John Billison of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.

Begaye, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Shiprock, N.M., was arrested on July 22, 2013, on a criminal complaint charging him with three counts of second degree murder, and was indicted on the same charges on Aug. 7, 2013.  According to the indictment, Begaye killed a Navajo woman and two of her adult children on July 14, 2013, while driving under the influence of alcohol on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

On May 16, 2014, a federal jury returned a verdict of guilty against Begaye on each of the three counts of the indictment after a five-day trial.  The evidence at trial established that on July 14, 2013, officers of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety were called to the scene of a two vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 491 south of Newcomb, N.M., near Sheep Springs, N.M.  The officers’ investigation revealed that Begaye caused the crash by driving his full-sized pickup truck northbound on the southbound lane of the highway and crashing head on into a vehicle occupied by the three victims who died at the scene. 

The investigation revealed that Begaye was intoxicated at the time of the crash.  His blood alcohol content (BAC) level was .18 when his blood was drawn when he was transported to a nearby hospital an hour after the crash.  The investigation also revealed that Begaye was driving northbound on a southbound lane of a four-lane highway at a speed of 75 per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone prior to impact.

Through a stipulation, the jury learned that Begaye had two prior DWI convictions.  According to the stipulation, Begaye was convicted on a driving under the influence charge in Oct. 2012, in the State of Colorado.  Begaye also was convicted on an aggravated driving while intoxicated charge in Jan. 2001, in the Municipal Court in the City of Farmington, N.M.

This case was investigated by the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety and the Farmington office of the FBI and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Presiliano A. Torrez and Louis E. Valencia.

Updated January 26, 2015