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Press Release

Zuni Man Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison for Voluntary Manslaughter

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, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, announced that Brian Wallace was sentenced to 9 years in prison. Wallace, 44, of Zuni, and an enrolled member of the Zuni Pueblo, pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter on May 3, 2023.

According to court records, Wallace instigated a fight with his uncle, Edmond Shelendewa, sometime between July 5, 2022, and August 9, 2022. The fight escalated and Wallace took up a maul, or a wood splitter, and hit Shelendewa in the chest, killing him. Wallace claimed that he was mad because Shelendewa kept telling Wallace that he was his real father.

Wallace buried Shelendewa in a shallow grave in the backyard of a friend’s house. In October of 2022, Wallace informed law enforcement of what had happened and where Shelendewa’s body was located. The body was recovered, and the Office of Medical Investigator determined that John Doe had died from blunt force trauma to his chest.

Upon his release from prison, Wallace will be subject to 3 years of supervised release.

The Gallup Resident Agency of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from Zuni Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas J. Marshall is prosecuting the case.

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Updated August 21, 2023

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 23-190