Sheep Springs man pleads to fatal stabbing

Steve Garrison
Bufred Denetclaw

FARMINGTON – Bufred Denetclaw, 53, of Sheep Springs, pleaded guilty Thursday to fatally stabbing his brother with a pickax in 2014, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

FBI agents and Navajo Nation criminal investigators were dispatched at 5 a.m. June 21, 2014, to an area west of mile marker 50 on U.S. Highway 491 in Sheep Springs after receiving reports of an apparent homicide, according to a criminal complaint.

The investigators found the body of a shirtless Native American man who had sustained two puncture wounds to his back, the complaint states. A large pickax with a taped wooden handle was found near the man's feet, according to the complaint. A woman at the scene, Linda Begay, identified the man as her brother, 44-year-old Willie Denetclaw, the complaint states.

Begay told investigators she called tribal police at 1:30 a.m. that morning because her brothers Willie Denetclaw and Bufred Denetclaw were fighting. She said officers never responded to the call, according to the complaint.

Begay said Bufred Denetclaw knocked on her door at 2:10 a.m. and, when she answered, he told her, "I killed Willie," the complaint states. Bufred Denetclaw then said he was going to kill himself and walked away, according to the complaint.

Investigators found Bufred Denetclaw in his residence and placed him under arrest, the complaint states.

Bufred Dentclaw was charged June 23, 2014, with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, according to court records, and pleaded guilty Thursday to the involuntary manslaughter offense through an agreement with prosecutors.

Bufred Dentclaw will be sentenced to approximately eight years and four months in prison as part of that agreement, the press release states.

A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled, according to court records.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.