Plea hearing set for man in girl’s death
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A suspect is set to change his plea in the kidnapping, sexual assault and killing of an 11-year-old girl in a remote part of the nation’s largest American Indian reservation that prompted an effort to expand the Amber Alert system into tribal communities across the U.S.
More than a year after the May 2016 death of Ashlynne Mike in Navajo Nation, Tom Begaye is to attend a change-of-plea hearing Tuesday in an Albuquerque federal court. It’s not known if his lawyers and federal prosecutors have struck a deal. Begaye previously pleaded innocent to murder, sexual abuse and other charges.
Begaye lured Ashlynne and her brother into his van, authorities say. Begaye told investigators he sexually assaulted the Navajo girl and hit her twice in the head with a crowbar, and that she was still moving when he left her in the desert, according to court documents. Her body was later found in the remote area. The younger brother was able to escape.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced legislation in April that would expand the notification system to tribal lands.