A tribute to Ashlynne Mike, an 11-year-old citizen of the Navajo Nation who was murdered in May 2016. Photo: Warpaint Arts
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Navajo citizen scheduled for change of plea hearing for death of 11-year-old girl

A Navajo Nation citizen who is accused of murdering an 11-year-old girl is due for a change of plea hearing.

Federal authorities say Tom Begaye kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered Ashlynne Mike on the New Mexico portion of the reservation in May 2016. He pleaded not guilty to four charges and was declared to be mentally competent to stand trial as long as he is provided "with proper medication," according to a court order filed on June 28.

But it looks like Begaye will be spared the trial. In a development first reported by the Associated Press, he is scheduled to appear in federal court in Albuquerque on Tuesday afternoon for the change of plea hearing.

Navajo Nation Office of the President on YouTube: Ashlynne Mike Message by Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye

Ashlynne's murder prompted Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) to introduce S.772, the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act. The bill ensures that tribes can receive federal funds to develop AMBER Alert systems.

The Navajo Nation doesn't have a system of its own so tribal officials weren't able to send out an alert immediately after Ashlynne went missing. An alert eventually went out through the state of New Mexico.

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved McCain's bill at a business meeting on June 13. It has not yet come up for consideration on the Senate floor.

Read More on the Story:
Suspect in killing of Navajo girl expected to change plea (AP 7/30)

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