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Press Release

Northern Nevada Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murdering Pregnant Indigenous Woman On Reservation

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

RENO, Nev. — A Northern Nevada man was sentenced today by Chief United States District Judge Miranda M. Du to life in prison, plus 20 years in prison, for murdering a pregnant indigenous woman on the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation in December 2020.

According to court documents, Michael Burciaga (36) stabbed his pregnant girlfriend, a registered member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, multiple times, causing her death and the death of their unborn child. Shortly after midnight on December 15, 2020, officers with Pyramid Lake Police Department responded to an emergency call from the victim’s daughter at the victim’s home located on the Pyramid Lake reservation in Nixon, located in Washoe County.

Burciaga has prior convictions for Domestic Assault in Becker County, Minn.; Domestic Battery in Fernley; and Battery and Domestic Battery in Sparks.

A jury convicted Burciaga of Murder in the First Degree within Indian Country, a violation of the Protection of Unborn Children Act, and Domestic Assault by a Habitual Offender Within Indian Country.

“Today’s sentence illustrates our collaborative efforts to ensuring justice for the victim and holding the defendant accountable for his heinous crime,” said United States Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada. “The Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) crisis is a priority for the Department of Justice and we will continue to work alongside Tribes and law enforcement partners in the pursuit of justice.”

“Today’s sentencing ends a tragic story of cold-blooded murder,” said Special Agent in Charge Spencer L. Evans for the FBI. “While life in prison will not undo the crime committed by Mr. Burciaga, it will prevent him from victimizing anyone on the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation again. I appreciate the work of our investigators and tribal partners ensuring violent offenders such as this are held accountable, and residents can feel safe in their homes.”

This case was investigated by the FBI and Pyramid Lake Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Penelope Brady, Megan Rachow, and Richard Casper prosecuted the case.

For additional information about the Department of Justice’s efforts to address the MMIP crisis, please visit the Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons section of the Tribal Safety and Justice website at:



Updated September 25, 2023

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime