ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – The man accused of abducting and killing an 11-year-old Navajo girl has pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping, sexual abuse and other charges.
Tom Begaye Jr. entered the plea Tuesday in federal court in Albuquerque, where relatives of the victim left the courtroom weeping after his brief court appearance.
The arraignment for the 27-year-old Navajo man came just over a month after authorities say he kidnapped fifth-grader Ashlynne Mike and her younger brother as they played near their home on the Navajo Nation.
A criminal complaint says Begaye took the children to a desolate area, where he sexually assaulted Ashlynne, bludgeoned her and left her to die. The boy later was freed.
The girl’s body was found the next morning after a massive search. Begaye was arrested later May 3.