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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 7, 2016

Zuni Pueblo Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Murder Charge

Plea Agreement Requires Prison Sentence within the Range of 204 to 264 Months

ALBUQUERQUE – Douglas Burt, 19, a member and resident of Zuni Pueblo, pled guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to a second degree murder charge.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Burt he will be sentenced within the range of 204 to 264 months in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

Burt and his co-defendant Dusty Chavez, 23, also a member and resident of Zuni Pueblo, were arrested in Nov. 2014, on a criminal complaint charging them with murdering a man on Oct. 28, 2014, in the Zuni Indian Reservation in McKinley County, N.M.  Burt and Chavez were subsequently indicted on a murder charge on Nov. 19, 2014.

During today’s change of plea hearing, Burt pled guilty to a felony information charging him with second degree murder.  According to the plea agreement, Burt and Chavez instigated a fight with the victim during which Chavez threw the victim to the ground and started kicking and punching the victim.  Burt also kicked the victim; Chavez hit the victim in the head with a rock, and Burt stabbed the victim in the chest.  The autopsy report revealed that the victim died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head and stab wounds to the chest.

Chavez has entered a not guilty plea to the indictment.  Charges in criminal complaints and indictments are merely accusations and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Burt has been in federal custody since his arrest.  He remains detained pending his sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Gallup office of the FBI and the Zuni Pueblo Tribal Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elaine Y. Ramirez and Kyle T. Nayback are prosecuting the case.

Topic: 
Indian Country Law and Justice
Updated February 4, 2016