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Man who killed Navajo girl sentenced to life in prison

KOB.com Web Staff
October 20, 2017 06:04 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The suspect who admitted to sexually assaulting and killing an 11-year-old girl has been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

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Tom Begaye Jr., 29, pleaded guilty to the crime over the summer. His sentencing agreement was accepted on Friday by U.S. District Judge William P. “Chip” Johnson.

“I hope that this was a message to him that we do not want his kind in our society,” said Gary Mike, Ashlynne’s father.

MORE: Court documents: Suspect in Ashlynne Mike murder seeks plea deal

ALSO: Man charged in Navajo girl's murder changes plea to guilty

Ashlynne Mike and her brother were abducted near their home on May 2, 2016. A year-and-a-half later, the painful details of that day are still fresh.

On Friday in court, Ashlynne’s family addressed her killer.

“How could any sane person do what he did to my child?” Gary Mike asked. “There are no other words I could say about this person. Just that we are grateful he has admitted to what he did so we can have closure on this chapter.”

Ashlynne's mother addressed the court, telling Begaye the sentence handed down is far from justice. She said while he lives out his life in prison, her family was also given a life sentence.

Begaye did not address the court, instead having his attorney speak for him. His attorney said he agrees with the prison sentence.

His attorney said as a child Begaye was badly abused, and suffered intellectual disabilities. Begaye hopes for some type of forgiveness, but says any words he could put together would fall short.

‘WE SHOULD BE DOING MORE’

The case has, in its aftermath, sparked a much larger discussion.

“We should be doing more in our society to protect our children,” Gary Mike said. “We should be hunting these people down. We should be keeping aware of what our children do.”

After she was abducted along with her brother, it took several hours to send out an Amber Alert.

Seven hours total, in fact.

“If we could have one exclusively Navajo (alert), and not the cell phone (alert) and all of those, we would have access to everybody,” said Russell Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation.

Russell Begaye – no relation to Tom – said the system he has in mind would allow them to send out their own Amber Alerts to everyone on the Navajo Nation, including the portions of the reservation in neighboring states.

Various lawmakers have backed bills to expand funding for Amber Alerts on tribal lands.  Officials said they're in the process of buying that software.

“Hopefully very shortly we're going to have an answer from our Department of Justice, from our attorneys to give us a go-ahead,” said Jesse Delmar, director of public safety on the Navajo Nation. “And at that point in time we will be buying the system for the Navajo Nation.”

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KOB.com Web Staff

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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