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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Shiprock, N.M., Man Sentenced to Nineteen Years in Federal Prison for Second Degree Murder and Attempted Robbery Conviction

ALBUQUERQUE – Malcolm Altisi, 32, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Shiprock, N.M., was sentenced this morning to 19 years in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release for his second degree murder and attempted robbery convictions.  Altisi’s sentence was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough, Carol K.O. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, and John Billison, Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.

Altisi and his co-defendant, Emery Whitehair, 21, a Navajo man from Pinon, Ariz., were charged in an eight-count superseding indictment based on events occurring on Oct. 17, 2011, on the Navajo Indian Reservation.   According to court records, on that day, Altisi killed Rolan Joe, a 25-year-old Navajo man, after Altisi and Whitehair attempted to rob a different Navajo man earlier that day.  The superseding indictment charged Altisi with second degree murder, using a firearm in relation to crime of violence, and assault and attempted robbery offenses.  It also charged Whitehair with assaulting the robbery victim with a dangerous weapon, causing the victim serious bodily injury, and using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.

In March 2013, Altisi entered guilty pleas to the second degree murder and attempted robbery charges.  In entering his guilty pleas, Altisi admitted that, on Oct. 17, 2011, he attempted to rob a man at his Shiprock home and brandished a firearm at the robbery victim in an effort to compel the victim to give him money.  Altisi also admitted shooting Rolan Joe with a .357 revolver later that day when Mr. Joe traveled to Altisi’s residence to confront Altisi about the attempted robbery.  Mr. Joe died as a result of the gunshot wound inflicted by Altisi.

In April 2013, Whitehair pleaded guilty to using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.  Whitehair has been in federal custody since his arrest in Oct. 2011, and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  At sentencing, Whitehair faces a prison sentence of not less than seven years and a maximum of life in prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer M. Rozzoni and Jack E. Burkhead, and was investigated by the Albuquerque and Farmington offices of the FBI and the Shiprock Division of the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety.
Updated January 26, 2015