Courtesy of San Juan County Adult Detention Center  Thomas Michael Navajo
Courtesy of San Juan County Adult Detention Center Thomas Michael Navajo

SHIPROCK — The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Monday that a Shiprock man has pleaded guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury after allegedly hitting a teenager with an ax.

Thomas Navaho, 21, was accused of choking the teenager at his home near milepost 21 on U.S. Highway 64 on Feb. 22. Detectives allege that Navaho later went to the teenager's home on 5th Lane Mesa Farm Road and struck him with the ax.

Navaho was arrested March 4 and indicted for assault resulting in serious bodily injury and assault with a dangerous weapon. The assault with a dangerous weapon charge was dropped. He has been held at San Juan County Correctional Center since his arrest and will remain in federal custody until his sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, the release states.

Navaho picked up the unidentified teenager on the night of Feb. 21 to consume alcoholic beverages at his home, according to the affidavit. The teenager fell asleep and Navaho got into an argument with the boy's sister, a former girlfriend also unidentified in the affidavit.

During the argument, Navaho allegedly texted the former girlfriend: "How bout ur brother screaming for help?"

The former girlfriend told detectives she heard her brother screaming. The teenager said he awoke to find Navaho choking him.

Navaho eventually stopped and drove the teenager to his sister's home. He and the teenager got into a fight at the residence after the teenager refused to allow Navaho into the home. During the fight, Navaho allegedly grabbed an ax and "drove it into the top of John Doe's head," according to the affidavit.

The teenager's mother intervened and the family eventually went into the house. Navaho allegedly threw rocks through two house windows and fled in his truck.

A Navajo police officer pursued Navaho and was able to shoot him with a stun gun at the old White Eagle gas station on Highway 64. Navaho was able to pull the stun gun's prongs out of his chest and escape, the affidavit states.

The teenager was taken to the hospital and his head wound was closed with six staples. The doctor said the injuries were not life threatening, but the damage could have been "catastrophic," according to the affidavit.

The case was investigated by the Farmington Office of the FBI and the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and sgarrison@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.