GALLUP, N. M. – The man accused of awarding a tribal police officer this year in a remote corner of the country’s largest American Indian reservation will not go to trial until June 2019 due to the complexity of the case and the possibility that the suspect could face a death sentence if convicted, officials said.
The Gallup Independent reported Thursday that Kirby Cleveland’s federal court trial is postponed because the lawyers have asked for more time given the amount of evidence and witnesses involved, quoting Elizabeth Martinez, spokeswoman for the u.s. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico.
Lawyers are also working on the line-up of experts that specialize in DNA, forensics, firearms and ammunition, the newspaper said.
Cleveland faces murder and weapons charges in the killing of the Navajo Nation, Officer James Houston Largo, who was shot March 11, on a dark road in the west of the state of New Mexico in answering a domestic violence call.
Initially scheduled to be tried in June in Cleveland, has pleaded not guilty and remains in custody.
A woman of the countryside, where the murder happened and saw flashing police lights the night of the shooting and found Largo lying on the road, face down and bleeding. They used the radio in Largo’s patrol vehicle to call for help.
The 27-year-old decorated officer died the following day in an Albuquerque hospital. Cleveland was found, hidden in the hills more than a kilometer (km) away.
Before the shooting, Cleveland was the wife of the so-called authorities saying he had been drinking and became angry, according to a criminal complaint. They drove him to the house of a friend.
A friend was driving Cleveland house in Largo stopped the car, and the photos came a short time later, authorities said. A criminal complaint said Cleveland walked home with his .22-caliber rifle and said to his wife: “I shot that cop, you have to help him.”
Cleveland was on probation for forcing his way into a home on the Navajo Nation in 2012, armed with a baseball bat and assaulting a woman. He served two years in prison.
The AMERICAN Attorney General Jeff Sessions will decide whether to seek a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty if Cleveland is sentenced for the most serious allegations.
According to a motion filed recently, is an internal case review should be undertaken as part of the process.
Information from: Gallup Independent, http://www.gallupindependent.com