"Too many federal officials say they honor the sovereignty of Indian tribes and nations, but abandon that respect when the rubber meets the road. Such was unfortunately the case when federal authorities removed an alleged murderer from a Navajo Nation jail Nov. 9 after deliberately bypassing the nation’s courts.
The crime is horrifying. The defendant, 18-year-old Reehahlio Carroll, is accused of brutally murdering a nun – Sister Marguerite Bartz, 64 – on the Navajo Nation, apparently in a botched burglary attempt shortly on or around Halloween. New Mexico’s U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged Carroll with first-degree murder under the federal Major Crimes Act because the crime allegedly occurred on Indian lands and was committed by a Native American.
No question: The federal government has jurisdiction in this murder case. I’ve worked previously with New Mexico U.S. Attorney Greg Fouratt, and hold him and his office in high regard. And based on what’s been publicly reported, Carroll – who like all criminal defendants is innocent until proven guilty – can and should stand trial in federal court for this terrible crime.
The problem is not the murder charge, but the way in which federal authorities involved intentionally avoided the Navajo Nation’s criminal laws and justice system – as if tribal sovereignty matters only in theory and not in practice."
Get the Story:
Troy Eid: Federal actions speak louder than words
(Indian Country Today 11/23)
Related Stories:Navajo Nation holds onto suspect in nun's murder
(11/10) Teen accused of murdering
nun on Navajo Nation
investigates death of nun on Navajo Nation