Man sentenced to two years for stabbing death of Steven Begay
The defendant apologized to the victim's family during the hearing
FARMINGTON — District Court Judge Sarah Weaver told the man convicted of stabbing another man to death that he has an opportunity to change his life, or he could fall back into the lifestyle that led him to take the life of 28-year-old Steven Begay.
Trustin Begay, 18, was sentenced to two years in a youth detention center on June 20 in front of Judge Weaver in Farmington Magistrate Court. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter following a jury trial that ended on June 13.
A juvenile at the time, Trustin stabbed Steven Begay multiple times on April 6, 2018, in the area of Robin Avenue and Piedras Street in west Farmington.
Judge Weaver stated Trustin Begay chased the victim for about 11 seconds before stabbing him in the back after already stabbing him in the chest and left forearm and leaving a large laceration on his left shoulder.
The defendant was sentenced under the New Mexico Children's Code since he committed the act as a juvenile and was not convicted of second-degree murder, the initial charge levied against him.
State statute states Trustin Begay could have been sentenced to one or two years of supervised probation or one to two years at a youth detention center.
Four of the victim's family members spoke to the court about the impact his death has had on the family.
They described Steven Begay as a kind, friendly and trusting person who worked hard to take care of his family.
His death has left them forever heartbroken and has had a traumatic impact on the family, requiring some family members to seek grief counseling, they said.
Family members in the audience sniffled as their relatives spoke to the court about how much they missed Steven Begay.
Lena Johnson-Yazzie, Steven Begay's maternal grandmother, told The Daily Times after the hearing that the jury's decision to not convict Trustin of second-degree murder felt like they cared more the needs of the killer than her grandson.
"The justice system does not do enough for a crime like this," Johnson-Yazzie said.
After sitting through the jury trial and seeing all the graphic details of the case, Johnson-Yazzie felt a level of sympathy for the killer as she wondered aloud where were his parents during this time.
"I really hope he turns his life around," Johnson-Yazzie said.
Both the prosecution and the Juvenile Probation Office recommended the two-year sentence.
Just before sentencing, Judge Weaver told the defendant she hopes he gets treatment for his alcohol and marijuana use and learns to control his impulses.
She also stated if she had an opportunity to give him a tougher sentence, she would have.
Trustin Begay briefly addressed the court, stating he made a lot of bad choices, and he apologized to the victim's family.
"I want the best possible outcome," he told the court.
Judge Weaver ended the hearing by stating she hopes the defendant wasn't putting an "act," that he was truly sorry and wants to get better and that he is not trying to impress his friends with gang relations.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.