Tom Begaye

Navajo man charged with kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and murdering young girl expected to change plea

The man accused of kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and killing an 11-year-old girl is set to change his plea on Tuesday.

Tom Begaye is accused of the May 2016 murder of Ashlynne Mike in the Navajo Nation. He is scheduled to attend a change-of-plea hearing Tuesday, but it’s unclear if he and his lawyers have struck a deal with federal prosecutors, reports CBS News.

Begaye initially pleaded not guilty to all charges of kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder.

Authorities say Begaye lured Mike and her brother into his van when he stopped at their bus stop and offered to take them to a movie. Begaye took the children deep into the desert, then walked off with the girl and a tire iron leaving the brother alone. He returned to the van without Mike.

Mike’s younger brother was able to get away from the man. He was picked up on the side of the highway by a passerby.

Begaye told authorities that he hit the 11-year-old in the head twice with the tire iron after he sexually assaulted her. He said he then walked off and left her in the desert. Her body was found later on.

An Amber Alert wasn’t issued in New Mexico until 2 a.m. after Mike went missing. Her father has filed a lawsuit against the Navajo Nation, which covers parts of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, for not having an emergency alert system in place. He believes the notification system could have helped to save his daughter.

The 27,000-square-mile reservation was awarded $330,000 years ago in federal funding to implement an Amber Alert system, but after buying megaphones and pop-up tents, the remainder of the money went unspent, according to the report.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona said more than 7,700 Native American children are missing in the United States. Sen. McCain introduced legislation in April that would include reservations in the alert system.

Mike’s family, along with other tribal members, will attend the change-of-plea hearing.

[Feature Photo: San Juan County, N.M. Detention Center/Family Photo]