Tre C. James was convicted Wednesday in Phoenix on all counts relating to the murder of Jamie Lynette Yazzie, providing a sense of justice for three other victims, Yazzie’s family and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives movement.
Yazzie disappeared from Piñon, Arizona, Jun 30, 2019. Her body was discovered Nov. 23, 2021, 7 miles from Piñon, just over the border on the Hopi reservation.
The trial began Sept. 12, at the Arizona District Court in Phoenix, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sharon Sexton and Jennifer LaGrange. James was tried on nine counts of domestic violence.
Counts 1 and 2 were the first-degree murder of Yazzie and discharging a firearm in relation to her murder. Counts 3 through 9 alleged domestic violence against three other women between 2018 and 2019, including assault by suffocation, kidnapping, assault by strangling, assault with a dangerous weapon and assault resulting in substantial bodily injury.
Law Offices of Darlene Gomez: www.dargomezlaw.com
Muzzy Denetso, MMDR: email@example.com
Vangie Randall-Shorty, northwest branch of New Mexico Crusaders for Justice: www.facebook.com/groups/659130935745109/user/100000013050467
Anyone with knowledge of any missing or murdered individual is asked to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov/home.
In San Juan County, Farmington FBI office: (505) 326-5584. Families of missing and murdered relatives with open Farmington PD cases are offered victim services.
Contact Sarah Holiday, Farmington PD Victim Advocate at (505) 486-563. Tips may remain anonymous.
Albuquerque attorney Darlene Gomez, pro bono private counsel for Yazzie’s family, stood beside them as the jury returned to the courtroom.
“It’s a good feeling. It’s amazing,” said Yazzie’s mother, Ethelene Denny. “We’ve gone this far, and I thought it would never come. But today’s the day, and I am so happy.”
He also was tried for domestic violence charges perpetrated on three women. James is alleged to have attempted to strangle, suffocate and assault the victims with a deadly weapon between 2018 and 2021.
James faces a sentence of life in prison for Yazzie’s first-degree murder, and another life sentence is expected for the remaining eight charges, according to Gomez. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 29.
“He deserves it. He had no remorse in court. Didn’t look like he cared,” said Denny.
She said she hoped other MMIWR families will be encouraged to come forward.
“I’m pretty sure this will help a lot of other families. A matter of … putting an effort in it. Not giving up no matter what. It was a long four years, but we did it,” Denny said.
“And we did it alone,” Gomez said. “We didn’t get any help from the Navajo Nation. If the Navajo Nation doesn’t support their women, how can we expect mainstream American to support them?”
“Hopefully, the Navajo Nation will realize they will have to put in effort,” said Denny. “It was MMIWR victims and families that supported us.”
“We’ve put a lot of miles on our moccasins,” said Gomez. “Not on a paved road. We’ve taken the Red Road, with potholes and washed-out washes.”
“The obstacles we faced,” said Denny.
Gomez said James is expected to appeal the verdict. That means the federal government will not return Yazzie’s remains to her family for at least six months.
“I will begin healing when my daughter’s remains come back,” Denny said.
2019: Jamie Lynette Yazzie goes missing from Piñon, Arizona, on June 30.
Attorney Darlene Gomez takes the case, her first MMWIR case in private practice.
Nov. 23, 2021: Jamie Yazzie’s body is found on Hopi Reservation
Aug. 4, 2022: Tre C. James of Piñon, Arizona, is arrested and indicted on nine counts of domestic violence, including first-degree murder of Jamie Yazzie
Sept. 12, 2023: James goes on trial for her first-degree murder
Sept. 27, 2023: Guilty verdict on all charges. James’s sentencing scheduled for Jan. 29, 2024.