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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Zuni Pueblo Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Murder Charge

Plea Agreement Requires Prison Sentence within the Range of 228 to 276 Months

ALBUQUERQUE – Dusty Lee Chavez, 23, a member and resident of Zuni Pueblo, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to a second degree murder charge.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Chavez will be sentenced within the range of 228 to 276 months in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

Chavez and his co-defendant Douglas Burt, 19, 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 murder charges on Nov. 19, 2014.

During today’s change of plea hearing, Chavez pled guilty to a felony information charging him with second degree murder.  In entering the guilty plea, Chavez admitted that he and Burt instigated a fight with the victim during which Chavez and Burt took the victim to the ground and punched and kicked the victim.  Chavez further admitted that he hit the victim in the head with a rock and Burt stabbed the victim in the torso.  An autopsy revealed that the victim died of blunt head trauma and stab wounds to the chest. 

On Jan. 7, 2016, Burt pled guilty to a felony information and admitted that he and Chavez murdered the victim.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Burt 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. 

Chavez and Burt have been in federal custody since their arrests.  They remain detained pending sentencing hearings which have 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