ALBUQUERQUE ― Shayliss Ellsworth, 24, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Crownpoint, pled guilty to assault charges Nov. 27 in Federal Court in Albuquerque.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Ellsworth faces a prison sentence within the range of 70 to 87 months followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.
Ellsworth was arrested June 21 on a criminal complaint charging him with stabbing two Navajo women with a knife June 17, on the Navajo Indian Reservation in McKinley County. As the result of the assault, the first victim suffered a cut across her face through her mouth, stab wounds on her left side and right breast, and a cut and stab wound to her left arm, which cut her artery causing profuse bleeding. The second victim suffered cuts on her neck and finger and a stab wound on her right arm. According to the complaint, the first victim underwent multiple surgeries including a surgery to amputate her left arm as the result of the assault.
Ellsworth was subsequently charged in a four-count indictment July 11, with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, a knife, and two counts of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. According to the indictment, the crimes took place June 17 on the Navajo Indian Reservation in McKinley County.
During the court proceedings, Ellsworth pled guilty to two counts of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. In the plea agreement, Ellsworth admitted that June 17 he assaulted two women with a knife causing serious bodily injury to both.
Ellsworth remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Farmington Office of the FBI and the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer M. Rozzoni and Niki Tapia-Brito are prosecuting the case as part of the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna.
The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department’s on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.