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Justice News

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tohatchi Man Arrested on Federal Murder Charge

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native America Women

ALBUQUERQUE – Dennison Hale, 42, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Tohatchi, N.M., made his initial appearance today in federal court in Farmington, N.M., on a criminal complaint charging him with murder.  Hale remains in custody pending a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing, both of which are scheduled for February 26, 2016, in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M.

Hale was arrested on Feb. 23, 2016, by the FBI on a criminal complaint alleging that he murdered a Navajo woman on the Navajo Indian Reservation in San Juan County, N.M.  The criminal complaint alleges that on Feb. 20, 2016, Hale struck the victim in the head and fled from the scene, the victim’s home in Hogsback, N.M.  The victim was subsequently transported by helicopter to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. 

If convicted of the crime charged in the criminal complaint, Hale faces a statutory maximum penalty of life imprisonment.  Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations.  All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI and the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Murphy is prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native American women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crimes
Updated February 24, 2016