Lezmond Mitchell, Federal

 

Updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Lezmond Mitchell has been executed by the federal government.  Read more here.

Updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Supreme Court of the United States has refused a request to halt the execution of Lezmond Mitchell.  Lezmond is also seeking clemency from President Donald Trump.

Updated: Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Lezmond Charles Mitchell is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm local time on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Thirty-eight-year-old Lezmond has been sentenced to death for the murder of 63-year-old Alyce R. Slim and her 9-year-old granddaughter Tiffany Lee, 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.

Undated family photo of Lezmond Mitchell
provided by Auska Mitchell

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, and 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, 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 medicine 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, as 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.

 

Lezmond Mitchell has lost his appeal to have his execution date pushed back.  Attorneys for Lezmond had filed an appeal seeking the delay of execution with the US District Court in Arizona, where Lezmond was initially sentenced to death.  His attorneys argued that Lezmond should be executed in accordance with Arizona law, however Judge David Campbell ruled that the federal method of execution "is not inconsistent with the salient provisions of Arizona law," and denied the request to push back Lezmond's execution date.

 

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has asked US President Donald Trump to commute the death sentence of Lezmond to life in prison.  The Navajo Nation opposes capital punishment and, as President Nez wrote in his letter, Navajo cultural teachings express sanctity for life and instruct against taking a human life for vengeance.

 

Attorneys for Lezmond, the only Native American on federal death row, is asking the Supreme Court of the United States to review his claim of racial bias during the selection of the jury for his initial trial.  Lezmond had previously appealed to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, who rejected his claim, saying there was no evidence of discrimination among the jury and that several safeguards in place to prevent discrimination.  Attorneys for Lezmond say his trial was tainted by inaccurate reporting, a largely white jury and the prosecution inappropriately referencing Navajo religious beliefs and culture.

 

Please pray for the families of Alyce Slim and Tiffany Lee. Please pray for strength for the family of Lezmond. Please pray that if Lezmond is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to his arrest. Pray that Lezmond may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.

 

  

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