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Press Release

Tohatchi man appears in court on federal assault charges

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

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, announced today that Eric Chandler Watson made an initial appearance in federal court on a criminal complaint charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury in Indian Country. Watson, 21, of Tohatchi, New Mexico, and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, will remain in custody pending a preliminary and detention hearing scheduled for Dec. 16.

According to the complaint, on Dec. 9, Watson allegedly was involved in argument with his grandfather at a residence in Tohatchi, on the Navajo Nation. After Watson allegedly pushed his grandfather in the chest, Watson’s uncle, identified as John Doe, attempted to intervene, and Watson and John Doe began to fight. When Watson’s grandparents attempted to break up the fight, Watson’s grandmother was knocked to the ground.

John Doe went inside the residence to get Watson’s Play Station gaming console. When Watson’s grandparents attempted to stop John Doe and take the Play Station, Watson allegedly began stabbing John Doe in the back with a pocketknife. The grandparents called the Navajo Police Department and Navajo Nation EMS. EMS assessed John Doe, and John Doe was transported to Gallup Indian Medical Center for care. In addition to multiple stab wounds, John Doe suffered a collapsed lung as a result of the assault.

A complaint is only an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Watson faces up to 10 years in prison.

The Navajo Department of Criminal Investigation and the FBI investigated this case with assistance from the Navajo Police Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Mark Probasco is prosecuting the case.

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Updated December 14, 2022

Violent Crime
Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 22-277