Jamie Yazzie’s boyfriend found guilty in her murder

Tre James was found guilty on Wednesday of murdering Jamie Yazzie and attacking three other women after her death.
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 11:42 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) — The boyfriend of a Navajo woman whose case became emblematic of an international movement launched to draw attention to an epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women was convicted of first-degree murder in her fatal shooting.

Tre C. James, 31, was convicted Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, in the domestic abuse and killing of his girlfriend Jamie Yazzie. The jury also found James guilty of several acts of domestic violence committed against three former intimate and dating partners. James faces mandatory imprisonment when he is sentenced on Jan. 29.

Yazzie was 32 and the mother of three sons when she went missing in the summer of 2019 from her community of Pinon, on the Navajo Nation. Despite a high-profile search, her remains were not found until November 2021 on the neighboring Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona. Eventually, in the summer of 2022, James was arrested for first-degree murder. Yazzie’s case was recently shown on the True Crime Arizona documentary ‘The Forgotten’ as the epidemic continues of missing and murdered indigenous women, also known as “MMIW.”

Many of Yazzie’s family members, including her mother, father, grandmother, and other relatives and friends attended all seven days of the trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona said. “Vindicating the rights of missing and murdered indigenous persons requires all the energy and compassion we have,” U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino said. “That means not only investigation and prosecution of tough cases, but also community engagement, cultural competence, and active listening to next of kin and other family members.”

The trial was supposed to take place at the federal courthouse in Flagstaff, but it was moved to Phoenix after the judge expressed concern about a growing group of protesters planned during the trial. However, Yazzie’s family said that they were MMIW supporters. Such a drastic change put a financial strain on the family.

Yazzie’s case gained attention through the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women grassroots movement that draws attention to widespread violence against Indigenous women and girls in the United States and Canada. The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs characterizes the violence against Indigenous women as a crisis.

Women from Native American and Alaska Native communities have long suffered high rates of assault, abduction and murder. A 2016 study by the National Institute of Justice found that more than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women — 84.3% — have experienced violence in their lifetime, including 56.1 % who have experienced sexual violence.

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