Death penalty ruled out in nuns murder

| November 13, 2009

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The man accused of murdering a Catholic nun at her convent on the Navajo reservation will not have to worry about the death penalty.

Federal prosecutors said they cannot seek the ultimate punishment for Reehalio Carroll, 18.

On Thursday Carroll made his first appearance before a federal judge who called him a danger to society and a flight risk before ordering him held without bond.

In court an FBI agent explained to the judge how they believe Carroll bludgeoned Sister Marguerite Bartz with her own flashlight on Oct. 31 after she caught him burglarizing her home in Navajo, N.M.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Yarbrough said usually a burglary turned into murder could warrant a first-degree murder charge and the death penalty but not in this case.

The Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 allowed Native American tribes to choose if the death penalty applies to crimes committed on their reservations.

The Navajos decided they did not want the death penalty, so the worst Carroll faces if convicted is life in prison.

Also in federal court Thursday the Navajo Nation chief prosecutor asked the judge to release Carroll back into tribal custody.

Bernadine Martin claimed FBI agents did not follow proper procedure when they took the Carroll from the Navajo jail in Window Rock, Ariz.

She said they never gave her paperwork such as an affidavit to show why the federal agents needed to take custody of Carroll.

Yarbrough said the U.S. Attorney's Office tried to get Martin the paper work although he wasn't sure what happened.

The judge denied Martin's motion saying authorities had legal backing to keep Carroll.

Martin said a move like this would never be tolerated by federal officials if the Navajo Nation tried to do the same thing in return.

"We come to a city and we go to a state and we are expected to be on our best behavior," Martin said. "Well, they come out to our reservation and we expect the same. We expect that from everybody who comes there."

Of the 562 Native American tribes in the country, the Sac and Fox tribe of Oklahoma is the only one that allows the death penalty.

Federal prosecutors have 30 days to get an indictment against Carroll. Once that happens he will be back in federal court for an arraignment.

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Category: Church Security

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