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Press Release

Tohatchi Man Charged with Second Degree Murder and Federal Firearms Offenses

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

ALBUQUERQUE – A Tohatchi man was charged by criminal complaint with second degree murder and using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence for the fatal shooting of Jane Doe on the Navajo Reservation.

Augustus Benallie, 51, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, appeared before a federal judge today and was detained pending a detention hearing, which is scheduled for May 20, 2024.

According to the criminal complaint, on May 12, 2024, the Navajo Police Department received an emergency call regarding a shooting near Tohatchi, New Mexico, within the Navajo Nation. EMS responded to the coordinates the caller provided and found Jane Doe inside a residence with an apparent gunshot wound.

Medical personnel attempted to transport Jane Doe to a staging location for medivac to a trauma center, but Jane Doe died enroute.

Benallie was arrested on May 13, 2024, after stabbing himself with a kitchen knife. 

If convicted of the current charges, Benallie faces up to life in prison.

U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, made the announcement today.

The Gallup Resident Agency of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the Navajo Nation Police Department and the Navajo Department of Criminal Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Mia Ulibarri-Rubin is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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Updated May 20, 2024

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 24-179