Jervis Wilson, 20, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Cudi, New Mexico, entered a guilty plea to an involuntary manslaughter charge in federal court this week under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said Wilson pleaded guilty to killing Herman Willeto, a 52-year-old Navajo man, while driving under the influence of alcohol on March 2, 2012, on U.S. Highway 64 outside of Shiprock, New Mexico, on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
Wilson’s plea agreement states that on March 2, 2012, Wilson drank alcohol and then drove a vehicle recklessly.
As he attempted to pass other vehicles at a greater rate of speed than the flow of traffic, Wilson struck a Jeep, causing property damage but not injuring the Jeep’s two occupants.
Wilson continued driving at a high rate of speed and side-swiped a Dodge sedan, causing moderate damage to the sedan and minor injuries to the driver.
As Wilson continued to drive, his vehicle struck a Ford truck that was towing an excavator on a flatbed trailer. Mr. Willeto, the driver of the truck, was killed on impact.
Wilson acknowledged his blood-alcohol level was .23 when his blood was drawn within three hours of the collision.
At sentencing, Wilson faces a maximum penalty of eight years of imprisonment. Wilson has been in federal custody since his arrest on March 7, 2012, and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Safe Trails Task Force and the Shiprock Division of the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Niki Tapia-Brito.
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