Home Albuquerque Press Releases 2013 Church Rock Man Pleads Guilty to Second-Degree Murder Charge Involving Death of a Navajo Man

Church Rock Man Pleads Guilty to Second-Degree Murder Charge Involving Death of a Navajo Man

U.S. Attorney’s Office February 05, 2013
  • District of New Mexico (505) 346-7274

ALBUQUERQUE—Danny Dan Don Brown, 25, a member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Church Rock, New Mexico pled guilty this morning to a second-degree murder charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Brown and co-defendant, Melvyn Lee Morgan, 29, a member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Gallup, New Mexico, were charged in a criminal complaint on December 4, 2011, for the December 3, 2011 murder of Robert L. Smith, also a member of the Navajo Nation. According to the complaint, the murder occurred in Church Rock, which is within the Navajo Indian Reservation. Brown and Morgan were arrested on December 27, 2011, and have been in federal custody since that time. The two were indicted on January 24, 2012, and charged with second-degree murder.

According to court records, late on the night of December 3, 2011, Brown, Morgan, and the victim had a fight after drinking alcohol. During the fight, Brown and Morgan repeatedly kicked and punched the victim, who died as a result of injuries he sustained.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Brown faces a sentence of not less than 12 years and not more than 15 years in prison. Brown remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

Morgan has entered a not guilty plea to the indictment. The charges in the indictment as to Morgan are only accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the Gallup Resident Agency of the FBI with assistance from the Crownpoint Division of the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety and the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office, and it is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers.