Man sentenced for 2016 shooting at Shiprock housing development


FARMINGTON — Two Shiprock men and a Nageezi man were sentenced in federal courts in New Mexico and Arizona this week in separate cases.

Christian Begay, 29, of Shiprock, was sentenced Wednesday in Albuquerque federal court on an assault conviction, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

He was sentenced to six years and six months in prison for shooting a Navajo man on May 21, 2016.

The incident occurred at a residence in the South Non-profit Housing development in Shiprock, according to a criminal complaint.

Begay was arrested on May 26, 2016, in Rio Rancho after he fled the residence before police arrived, according to The Daily Times archives.

He was indicted on June 15, 2016, on charges including assault resulting in serious bodily injury, along with using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Begay pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit murder during a Aug. 22, 2017, hearing and admitted to shooting the victim.

The victim suffered severe damage to his pelvic bone and was hospitalized.

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

Emory Werito, 41, of Nageezi, was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday in Albuquerque federal court for assaulting a U.S. marshal, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

Werito backed his vehicle into a vehicle driven by a deputy U.S. marshal on Aug. 16, 2016, as the U.S. Marshals Service and the San Juan County Sheriff's Office were attempting to execute a search warrant on him.

Werito also almost struck another deputy U.S. marshal while attempting to evade arrest. He was arrested on Aug. 24, 2017.

It was during a Oct. 31, 2017, hearing that Werito pleaded guilty to driving a pickup truck that hit the patrol vehicle of the deputy U.S. marshal.

Kendale Johnson, 28, of Shiprock, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison on Monday in Phoenix federal court, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

He previously pleaded guilty to a charge of aiding and abetting an assault on a federal officer with a dangerous weapon.

An officer for the Arizona Department of Public Safety cross-commissioned with the Navajo Division of Public Safety attempted to pull Johnson over for speeding on July 4, 2017.

Johnson's vehicle was operating at speed of 80 to 90 mph along Arizona Route 98 near Kaibeto, Arizona, and led police on a high-speed pursuit for at least 10 miles.

A passenger and Johnson threw rocks at the patrol vehicle during the pursuit. Johnson initially escaped but later taken into custody.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

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