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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Utah

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Navajo Nation Man Pleads Guilty To Voluntary Manslaughter In Stabbing Death Of Uncle, Faces 110 Months In Federal Prison

SALT LAKE CITY – Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 12, 2019, for Kenric Lee, age 41, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, who pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Thursday to voluntary manslaughter.

In a plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors, Lee admitted that on June 7, 2018, he killed his uncle during an argument in a vehicle. His uncle, also an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, is identified as J.L. in court documents. Lee admitted that he went with J.L. and J.L.’s girlfriend, C.H., to a convenience store in Montezuma Creek, Utah.  While C.H. was in the store, a quarrel erupted between Lee and J.L., while they were sitting in the vehicle. 

According to prosecutors, when C.H. returned to the car she saw Lee on top of the victim.  She also noticed Lee was holding a black knife. Lee said he needed to take J.L. to a hospital.  Although there was a medical clinic next door to the store, Lee locked the doors of the vehicle and drove away with J.L. in the car. 

Later that morning, the FBI and Navajo Nation police officers received information about a burning vehicle.  Agents and officers responded to the location and found a burning Ford Expedition.  Lee was found about 30 yards from the vehicle with two knives in his possession.  Lee was taken into custody after initially resisting arrest.  As a part of his plea agreement, Lee admitted that as a result of his actions, his uncle received two stab wounds to his chest which resulted in his death.

Later that evening, J.L.’s body was located later in a grove of bushes a few miles away from the incinerated vehicle.
 
A federal grand jury returned a single-count indictment in August 2018 charging Lee with murder in the second degree in connection with J.L.’s death.  Lee pleaded guilty last week to a Felony Information count of Voluntary Manslaughter while in Indian Country.

The plea includes a stipulated sentence of 110 months in federal prison, which is subject to the approval and acceptance of U.S. District Judge David Nuffer at the sentencing hearing in August.   

Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Utah are prosecuting the case.  Special Agents of the FBI and Navajo Nation Police Officers and Criminal Investigators are investigating the case.

Topic(s): 
Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated May 21, 2019