San Juan County men sentenced in separate murder cases
FARMINGTON — Two men from communities on the Navajo Nation were sentenced this month to federal prison in separate cases of second-degree murder.
The U.S. Department of Justice issued news releases about the formal judgments on Sept. 21.
Simeon Atcitty, of Shiprock, was sentenced to nine years in prison for beating his friend to death in June 2020.
He was sentenced on Sept. 10 during a hearing in federal court in Albuquerque.
Atcitty, 38, pleaded guilty to the murder as part of a plea agreement that he signed in April.
The plea agreement states that Atcitty and his friend had been drinking alcohol at Atcitty's home on the tribal land when the friend said something that upset Atcitty.
He then repeatedly hit his friend, referred to as John Doe in the court document, in the head and chest, which seriously injured John Doe.
Atcitty continued the beating until John Doe stopped moving then he wrapped John Doe's body and left it inside the home.
Law enforcement discovered John Doe's body about a week later, according to the plea agreement.
Atcitty will be on supervised release for five years after completing his prison term.
Man sentenced for July 2015 murder
Garrett Neal, of Sheep Springs, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing a man during a physical altercation at the chapter house.
Neal, 28, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in October 2020 as part of a plea agreement.
According to the court document, Neal and another man with the initials M.N. fought with the victim on July 12, 2015 at the Tooh Haltsooí Chapter house in Sheep Springs.
The indictment was redacted and did not include details about the crime or about others who may have been involved.
However, the plea agreement states that Neal admitted that he punched and kicked the man, referred to as John Doe, in addition to using brass knuckles and rocks to hit the man in the head and throat.
According to the plea agreement, Neal heard John Doe attempting to breathe while punching him in the throat.
It also states that John Doe tried to run away and did not fight back. He died at the scene and his body was moved and left at a nearby windmill by Atcitty and M.N.
Neal will be on five years of supervised release after completing his prison term.
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.
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