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The defendant was arrested on April 5, 2018, for murder of uncle

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FARMINGTON — A Sanostee man has pleaded guilty to killing his uncle by beating him to death outside a Sanostee residence last year.

Darren Benally, 26, pleaded guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge on July 22 during a hearing in Albuquerque federal court, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

Benally was arrested by the Navajo Department of Criminal Investigations and the FBI on April 5, 2018, according to The Daily Times archives. The defendant was indicted on July 27, 2018, for the crime of second-degree murder.

He was charged with beating his 50-year-old uncle, Norman Tyler, to death on the night of March 27, 2018.

Norman Tyler was not identified in court documents, but family member Tanisha Tyler identified him as the victim and Benally as her cousin.

Tanisha told The Daily Times last year that Norman was like a father figure to her and she never believed Benally would "rip" her uncle out of her life. Attempts to contact her on July 29 were not successful.

Benally said in the plea agreement that he unlawfully killed Norman by hitting him in the face with his fists.

Norman was found outside a Sanostee residence on the night of March 27, 2018, and was declared deceased by a field investigator for the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator.

Benally was interviewed by investigators, who stated he got into a fight with his uncle after picking up trash around the residence. He knocked Norman to the ground then punched him in the face and head more than 20 times.

The defendant has been in custody since he was arrested and will remain in custody as he awaits his sentencing hearing, which has not been scheduled.

Benally faces a prison sentence up to eight years and a fine not to exceed $250,000, according to court documents.

A period of not more than three years of supervised release is set after Benally completes his prison sentence.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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