Friday, July 19, 2024

Lezmond Mitchell, Federal

Lezmond Mitchell, Federal

August 26, 2020

Lezmond Charles Mitchell was executed by the federal government on Wednesday, August 26, 2020. He was pronounced dead at 6:29 pm local time, inside the execution chamber at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Lezmond was 38 years of age. Lezmond was sentenced to death for the double murder of 63-year-old Alyce R. Slim and her 9-year-old granddaughter Tiffany Lee.  They were murdered on the Navajo Indian reservation in Arizona on October 28, 2001. Lezmond has spent the last 16 years on death row in a federal prison.

Lezmond, an American Indian, allegedly had a difficult upbringing. His mother had a substance abuse problem and it is thought that Lezmond was abused as a child. He has also been diagnosed as having mental and emotional problems, likely due to his distant mother. However, during his trial, witnesses testified that Lezmond was an excellent high school student, with few disciplinary problems.  Lezmond had prospects of attending college for football. Additionally, Lezmond was a member of the student council.

The Navajo Nation extends into areas of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. In October of 2001, Lezmond Mitchell, Jason Kinlicheenie, Gregory Nakai and Jakegory Nakai decide to rob a trading post on the Arizona side of the Navajo Indian Reservation. On October 27, Mitchell and a fifth person, teenager Johnny Orsinger set out from Round Rock, Arizona, to Gallup, New Mexico, looking for a vehicle to steal for use in the robbery.

On Sunday, October 28, 2001, Alyce Slim and her granddaughter, Tiffany, were traveling from Fort Defiance, Arizona, to Tohatchi, New Mexico.  They were going to visit a traditional medicine person, in the hopes of relieving pain in Alyce’s legs. While the woman was unable to help them, she recommended another medical woman in Twin Lakes, New Mexico. They set an appointment for the next day, and left the first medicine woman’s home.

Sometime after leaving, Alyce and her granddaughter came across Mitchell and Orsinger and the two men were able to enter the vehicle. Near Sawmill, Arizona, the car was stopped to let Mitchell and Orsinger out, however Mitchell and Orsinger stabbed Alyce 33 times. Wounds on her hands and arms indicated that she attempted to fight off the men. Alyce was then tossed into the backseat, where her granddaughter was forced to sit next to her, while Mitchell drove 30-40 miles into the mountains, where Alyce’s body was disposed of. Tiffany was also ordered out of the vehicle. Her throat was cut twice and when that failed to kill her, the two men dropped large rocks on her head, which killed her.

Severed body parts, including the heads, were buried in a hole, while the torsos were pulled into the woods. The clothing and jewelry of the victims were later burned. The knives used in the double murder were washed in a nearby stream, and then with alcohol the following day.

On Wednesday, October 31, 2001, the Red Rock Trading Post was robbed by three masked men. Once of the witnesses described seeing a vehicle like the one Alyce had been driving when she was reported missing by her daughter. The witness was also able to provide a license plate number. The robbers later burned the vehicle.

When police found the semi-burned vehicle, they also found the masks and gloves used by the robbers. They were also able to discover Mitchell’s finger prints and Alyce’s blood. Working together, the FBI and the Navajo Department of Criminal Investigations went to arrest several individuals, including Mitchell and Orsinger. During the arrests, police also recovered some evidence, including knives that had blood on them.

Mitchell agreed to waive his Miranda rights and talk to investigators, eventually confessing to being involved in the robbery and the murders. Mitchell helped lead police to the bodies and described what had happened to each.

In 2003, Mitchell was convicted and sentenced to death for his crimes. His death sentence has been somewhat controversial.  The Navajo Nation does not support capital punishment in general, and does not support Mitchell being sentenced to death. Many of Mitchell’s appeals have also focused on the fact the he is a Native American and the crime occurred on Navajo Nation land, which has its own laws.

Please pray for the families of Alyce Slim and Tiffany Lee. Please pray for strength for the family of Lezmond Mitchell.

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