ALBUQUERQUE – Lowell Begay, 38, of Fruitland, New Mexico, and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, pleaded guilty in federal court on April 16 to involuntary manslaughter in Indian Country.
A grand jury indicted Begay and co-defendant Jerry Armenta on July 25, 2019. According to the plea agreement and other court records, Begay committed the offense on Sept. 11, 2018, in San Juan County, New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation. Begay was intoxicated and recklessly handling a loaded firearm when he accidently fired it and killed a woman. In the plea agreement, Begay admitted his unlawful actions were without due caution and circumspection and with a wanton and reckless disregard for human life, and that he knew and should have known that his conduct imperiled the lives of others.
Armenta pleaded guilty on Sept. 19, 2019, to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. On March 23, 2020, Armenta was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
Begay will remain in custody pending sentencing. He faces up to 8 years in prison.
The Farmington Resident Agency of the FBI’s Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety and the Navajo Nation Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Cowen and Allison Jaros are prosecuting the case.