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Press Release

Tohajilee Man Pleads Guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, announced today that Cole Ray Shorty pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Shorty, 19, of Tohajilee and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, will remain in custody pending sentencing, which has not been scheduled.

A federal grand jury indicted Shorty on Sept. 27, 2022, along with his co-defendant, Keon Apachito. In his plea agreement, Shorty admitted that he went to John Doe’s home on May 27, 2022, to retrieve a backpack that he believed John Doe has stolen. Shorty approached John Doe while he was seated in his car in the driver’s seat and opened the back door of the car to look for his backpack. John Doe got out of the car with a baseball bat and a knife. After a struggle, John Doe dropped the bat. Shorty picked up the bat and hit John Doe with the baseball bat in his head, then left, leaving John Doe lying unconscious on the ground. The Office of the Medical Inspector’s found that the cause of John Doe’s death was blunt head trauma.

Per the terms of his plea agreement, Shorty faces up to 15 years in prison.

Apachito remains in custody pending trial, which is currently scheduled for June 10, 2024.

The FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the Navajo Police Department and Navajo Department of Criminal Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brittany DuChaussee, Meg Tomlinson and Mark Probasco are prosecuting the case.

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Updated January 25, 2024

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 24-34