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Teen Enters Plea in Death of Two Navajo Men

Teen Enters Plea in Death of Two Navajo Men
September 17
09:59 2015

A New Mexico teen has pleaded guilty September 16 to the brutal 2014 murders of two homeless Navajo men.


Gilbert Tafoya

Gilbert Tafoya, of Albuquerque, was 15 when he and two others savagely launched an unprovoked attack that left the bodies of the Navajo men “unrecognizable.”

Tafoya admitted guilt to two counts of second-degree murder, armed robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

While he could face up to 20 years during his sentencing, the terms of Tafoya’s plea agreement could see him released from detention after he turns 21.

Tafoya has agreed to testify against his co-defendants, his half-brother Nathaniel Carrillo, 17, and Alex Rios, 19. Their trial is set for October 20.

Rios, who was an adult at the time of the beatings, rejected a plea bargain with the state that would have seen him sentenced to 20 years.

Rios’ father, Joel Rios, said his son was a good boy with “a clean record,” the teens allegedly admitted to police that they had attacked as many as 50 homeless people in the past.

The victims in the July 2014 attack were Alison Gorman, 44, and Kee Thompson, 45. A third man was able to run away.

Tafoya said he and the other defendants were walking home in the early morning hours when they spotted the men lying on the ground. The teens decided to rob them, but ended up bludgeoning Gorman and Thompson with cinder blocks, poles and sticks.

The horrific attack drew attention to the mistreatment of Native Americans, some of them homeless, in New Mexico’s largest city. At the urging of Navajo leaders, the city formed a task force that issued 14 recommendations, including the appointment of a tribal liaison.

By appointing a tribal liaison and putting resources toward cultural competency training, Albuquerque is establishing “a solid foundation to help address homelessness and lessen its impact among Native Americans in Albuquerque,” according to Sherrick Roanhorse, who served as chairman of the Native American Homelessness Task Force.

Addressing homelessness is an ongoing challenge that will require ongoing collaboration and partnerships between the city, tribes, non-profit partners and private sector, Roanhorse added.


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