Published June 8, 2016
ALBUQUERQUE — On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Thomas Begaye, 27, pleaded not guilty to abduction and murder of 11-year-old Ashynne Mike on the Navajo Nation last month. Even though Begaye was in court, Begaye’s not guilty plea was entered by his court appointed attorney.
According to an affidavit, Mike and her brother accepted a ride from Begaye, who then drove to remote area, where he sexually assaulted and murdered Mike. Begaye released the brother a short time later.
Begaye has been indicted by a federal grand jury on six counts that include first-degree murder, aggravated sexual abuse resulting in death, and kidnapping resulting in death. If convicted, the crimes carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Another kidnapping charge stemming from the boy’s abduction has a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years.
Begaye remained silent during his court appearance, with exception when he said he had read the the grand jury indictment against him.
The case was investigated by several law enforcement agencies, including the Navajo Department of Public Safety and the FBI.