Navajo Nation Council, Attorneys Argue For Delay In Federal Execution

Aug 13, 2020

Attorneys for the only Native American on federal death row are asking a judge to delay his execution.

The federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where Navajo tribal member Lezmond Mitchell is set to be executed in late August.
Credit Federal Bureau of Prisons

They argue the procedures to put Navajo tribal member Lezmond Mitchell to death must follow Arizona law. He’s set to be executed Aug. 26 in Indiana. A U.S. District Court judge heard arguments Wednesday on the request for a delay and says he’ll make a decision quickly.

The Justice Department urged the judge to reject the request, calling it untimely, unpersuasive and unjustified.

The Navajo Nation Council is also calling for the death sentence to be reversed. Lawmakers say it’s a violation of the Navajo Nation’s sovereignty for a tribal member to be subjected to a federal death penalty. Navajo President Jonathan Nez has asked President Trump to commute Mitchell’s sentence.

Mitchell was convicted in the 2001 killing of a Navajo woman and her granddaughter on the reservation.