PHOENIX (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.
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.”
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 woman 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.