New Mexico man ordered held in jail awaiting child murder trial
By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) – A federal judge in Albuquerque on Friday ordered a New Mexico man who has been charged with kidnapping and murdering an 11-year-old girl on a Navajo reservation this week to be held in jail as he awaits trial, a spokesman for prosecutors said.
Tom Begaye Jr., 27, is accused of kidnapping Ashlynne Mike and her 9-year-old brother from the area of Fruitland, New Mexico on Monday after they got off a school bus, and later striking her over the head with a tire iron, according to court documents. The boy was let go later in the day, authorities said.
Mike’s body was found on Tuesday about 6 miles (9 km) south of Shiprock pinnacle, a rock formation that is a landmark of the Navajo Nation and is west of Fruitland, and Begaye was arrested hours later based on witness descriptions of his van, according to court records.
Begaye, of Waterflow, New Mexico, sexually assaulted the girl before killing her, according to court papers.
Begaye was charged with murder and kidnapping, according to the office of the U.S. attorney for New Mexico.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Yarbrough at a federal court hearing in Albuquerque on Friday found probable cause to hold him in jail pending trial, said Alyssa Ferda, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office. Begaye waived his preliminary hearing, Ferda said.
He is expected to enter a plea after he is indicted, which by law must occur within a month of this week’s filing of the criminal complaint. His public defender could not be reached for comment.
The girl’s brother, who was found by a passing motorist on a road on the reservation and taken to police, has said the two children did not know Begaye, according to court papers.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Will Dunham)