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Press Release

Spencer Valley, N.M., Woman Sentenced to 25 Years in Federal Prison for Voluntary Manslaughter Conviction - Defendant Killed a 4-Year-Old Boy in the Heat of Passion and Hid His Body in an Ice Chest

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Evelyne James, 53, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation from Spencer Valley, N.M., was sentenced earlier today to 25 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for her voluntary manslaughter conviction.  James also was ordered to pay approximately $3000.00 in restitution.   James’ sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales, 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.

James has been in federal custody since her arrest in Oct. 2007, on a criminal complaint charging her with murder.  She subsequently was indicted on a first degree murder charge in a superseding indictment filed in Oct. 2008.   In May 2012, James pleaded guilty to a felony information charging her with voluntary manslaughter and admitted killing a 4-year-old boy in Oct. 2007.  At the time, James and her common law husband were acting as guardians of the child victim, who was James' nephew.  The prosecution of the case was delayed by mental competency proceedings. 

According to court filings, the FBI and Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety initiated an investigation into this case on Oct. 10, 2007, after receiving a report that the body of a young boy had been found.  The boy’s body had been placed in an ice chest that was wrapped in a plastic bag and hidden in a structure located next to James' residence in Spencer Valley, which is located within the Navajo Indian Reservation.  The investigation revealed that James killed the child victim on or about Oct. 4, 2007, by repeatedly kicking and hitting the child victim.  The next morning, when James observed that the child victim was cold and not moving, she put his body in the ice chest and hid the ice chest in the structure.  James then told family members that the child victim was with his aunt. 

During a consensual search of James’ residence, officers found four letters in which James admitted that she had been abusing the child victim and “over did it,” and then tried to cover up his death because she did not want to go to prison.  James later explained to the officers that she acted out of frustration because the child was not potty trained.  An autopsy revealed that, among other injuries, the child victim had multiple lacerations to the scalp with underlying new and old skull fractures, new and old rib fractures, and an old hematoma.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, the first degree murder charge was dismissed after sentence was imposed on James.                                                                     

            The case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI and Crownpoint Division of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Presiliano A. Torrez.

Updated January 26, 2015