Feds win suspect custody in nun murder

| November 11, 2009

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A federal judge Tuesday ordered the Navajo Nation jail to hand over to the FBI a tribal member accused of killing a nun in her reservation convent.

Reehalio Carroll, 18, is charged with murdering a Roman Catholic nun on the reservation Oct. 31. However the Navajo Nation is holding him on lesser charges related to the theft of the nun's car and has not released him to federal authorities.

In the past FBI agents would just pick up suspects from tribal land without a fuss or a court order from a federal judge.

That was before Navajo Chief Prosecutor Bernadine Martin changed the way they do business. Martin said Friday the days of federal authorities sidestepping Navajo rules are over.

"My oath is to the Navajo Nation law; my oath is to the government and my oath is to the people," Martin said. "It is not to the federal government."

Dean Kevin Washburn of the University of New Mexico School of Law told KRQE News 13 he has never seen tribal prosecutors do this. Washburn, a former assistant U.S. attorney specializing in tribal law, called it wacky.

Another person close to the case said it’s a power play by the Navajo prosecutor.

Martin said she will no longer allow federal agents just to flash a badge to take custody of a suspect. The Navajo Nation judicial system will not be trampled on by federal agents, she added.

Washburn said ultimately, the federal government got its way with Tuesday's federal court order.

"I think they are being very respectful of the tribal government," Washburn said. “It is in the tribe's interest to get this crime prosecuted.

"It is a public safety issue for the Navajo reservation, and I anticipate that they will soon begin to cooperate."

Carroll he is due in a federal court on Thursday after FBI agents pick him up from the Navajo jail in Window Rock, Ariz.

Carroll was arrested Thursday after FBI agents said he murdered Sister Marguerite Bartz while burglarizing her convent residence for money to buy drugs and alcohol.



Tags: , , , ,

Category: Church Security

Comments are closed.