Ashlynne Mike's killer wants life prison term reversed
FARMINGTON — The man who pleaded guilty to the May 2016 abduction and murder of Ashlynne Mike has filed a motion in federal court to reverse his life-in-prison sentence.
Tom Begaye Jr. was sentenced in 2017 for six charges, including first-degree murder, kidnapping resulting in death and aggravated sexual abuse resulting in death, in connection to Mike.
Mike and her nine-year-old brother were abducted on May 2, 2016 near their home in Lower Fruitland. The 11-year-old girl's body was found a day later near the Shiprock pinnacle.
In the motion, Begaye states he did not have a competent federal public defender, he was not aware of his rights when he underwent psychiatric evaluation, and because of a low IQ, he did not understand the law and the charges he faced.
He further stated that he drank a fifth of vodka and beer the day of the crimes.
"Begaye was not functioning as a normal human being with such low IQ and had been drinking liquor and beer the morning of the incident, it cannot be justified that this was a premeditated act, of a first-degree murder," the motion states.
He is seeking an evidentiary hearing and a lesser charge.
Begaye's motion was filed on June 24 in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.
The nine-page handwritten motion was submitted pro se, meaning on his own behalf and without legal representation, and mailed from the federal penitentiary in the Midwest where Begaye is imprisoned.
He pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement to the six charges on Aug. 1, 2017. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release on Oct. 20, 2017.
Begaye did not speak during the sentencing hearing in federal court in Albuquerque, according to The Daily Times archives.
However, his public defender read a statement from Begaye in which he stated that he realized the extent of his crimes as he received mental health treatment while in custody and that he deserved the sentence, according to the archives.
A member of the Native American Church who befriended Begaye told The Daily Times in May 2016 that he tried to help Begaye and his brother after the death of their parents in 2014.
The man said when he met the brothers in 2015, they lived in a dilapidated home that lacked basic necessities.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.