Plea hear­ing set for man in girl’s death

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

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.

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