• John Lodgepole beat Michaelene Warren and staved in her head with a cinderblock
• When he saw she was still alive, he propped up her legs and beat her ankles with a cane
• Prosecutor Raquel Ruiz-Velez gave him a plea deal of six to eight years
See the case write-up here or past stories on this case
Update: On April 2, 2021, the sentencing date was vacated. No reason was given and no new sentencing date has been set.
Albuquerque, N.M. — A sentencing hearing has been tentatively set for John Lodgepole, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter for beating Michaelene Warren, staving in her head with a cinderblock and, after he saw she was still alive, beating her ankles with a cane.
Lodgepole, 21, of Fruitland, is tentatively set to be sentenced at 3 p.m., April 14, 2021, by District Judge James Parker, according to a hearing notice. The hearing will be held virtually, via Zoom. No courtroom is listed on the hearing notice, entered on Feb. 10, 2021.
Lodgepole pleaded guilty to a single count of voluntary manslaughter, on Nov. 3, 2020, for Warren’s brutal beating death, on Aug. 1, 2019, in Nenahnezad. He signed a binding plea deal that set his sentence at just six to eight years. The deal was proffered by federal prosecutor Raquel Ruiz-Velez. The sentencing judge, Parker, can still reject it.
Lodgepole wrote in the plea deal that he punched Warren in the head and face 10 times because she called him names and threatened him. After throwing her to the ground, he took a cinderblock and “smashed the back of her head.”
Warren, 43, was a friend of Lodgepole’s mother.
“When I noticed that Jane Doe was still breathing, I took the block, placed it under her feet and used a cane to strike her ankles for approximately five or six times,” according to the plea deal.
The reasons behind the plea deal are unknown. He was indicted Oct. 9, 2019, on a charge of voluntary manslaughter.
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See the case documents on Google Drive or Document Cloud
- Suspect: John Lodgepole
- Victim: Michaelene Warren, 43, Navajo Nation tribal member
- Charges: Voluntary manslaughter
- Date of incident: Aug. 1, 2019
- Type of incident: Beating
- Status: Guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter, pending sentencing
- Sentence: 6-8 years per binding plea deal
- Prosecuting agency: U.S. Attorney’s Office
- Prosecutor: Raquel Ruiz-Velez
- Defense attorney: Melissa Morris
- Investigating Agency: FBI
- Location: Nenahnezad (Fruitland), San Juan county, Navajo Nation, NM
- County: San Juan
- Suspect race: Native American (Navajo Nation)
- Victim race: Native American (Navajo Nation)
- Federal district case number: 19-cr-03599
- Federal magistrate case number: 19-mj-02388
- Plea judge (magistrate): Steven Yarbrough
- Sentencing judge (district): James Parker
- Pathologist: Lori Proe, Karen Zeigler