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Life or Death for Convicted Navajo Nation Murderer?

Life or Death for Convicted Navajo Nation Murderer?
September 19
07:38 2019

Attorney General William Barr

Life or Death

by John Christian Hopkins

 

Will Lezmond Mitchell be put to death?

In 2001 Mitchell, then 20, and an underaged teen committed a heinous crime on Navajo land.

Alyce Slim, a Navajo woman, was returning home after visiting a medicine woman when Mitchell and Johnny Orsinger – 16 at the time – carjacked her vehicle.

Slim’s nine-year-old granddaughter was in the back seat.

The two carjackers immediately became murderers when they stabbed Slim to death. Then they threw Slim’s body in the backseat with the girl.

They drove into the mountains and killed the little girl, too.

A few days later Mitchell used Slim’s truck in robbing a reservation store. Though the truck had burned before authorities located it, investigators were able to find Mitchell’s fingerprints inside.

After repeated questioning by the FBI Mitchell finally confessed.

Navajo officials, the prosecutor and members of the Slim family all opposed the death penalty.

It would go against Navajo culture and religion to kill out of vengeance.

Despite all of those against the death penalty, then U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft used a loophole to take over the case. Carjacking, death resulting, was a federal crime

In 2003 the jury sentenced Mitchell to death.

But the U.S. government had stopped using the death penalty.

Mitchell has been on death row for nearly two decades.

Things changed last July when Attorney General William Barr announced the Department of Justice was reversing its stance on capital punishment.

Barr named five death-row inmates – Mitchell among them – who would be put to death in December and January.

Attorneys for Mitchell are still fighting on his behalf. They are claiming the jury may have been biased. Only one of 12 jurors was native American.

Unless something changes, Mitchell will be executed on December 11.

Life or Death for Convicted Navajo Nation Murderer? - overview

Summary: Convicted Navajo murderer Lezmond Mitchell is scheduled to be executed.

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