A Cortez man has been sentenced to three years in prison for attempting to shoot his adoptive grandmother.
In a hearing Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Adam Barnhurst asked for the maximum sentence under a plea agreement for 21-year-old Termain Yazzie, saying it was a serious case. The three-year sentence was the maximum sentence under the plea agreement.
Representing the defendant, Attorney John Moran handed over a letter from the victim in the case, Elsie Green. Speaking on Greens behalf because she was unable to appear for health reasons, Moran said the victim has since recanted her story of the Jan. 6 incident at her Cortez home. She said that she misspoke while talking to police, and Yazzie never pointed the gun at her. She attributed his actions that night to a combination of alcohol consumption and mood swings from his medication.
Shell tell anyone thatll listen that the Termain Yazzie thats in the newspaper and police reports is not the boy that she has known, Moran said, adding Yazzie is compassionate, apologetic and remorseful for what he has done.
According to police reports from the night of the incident, Green told Cortez officers in two separate interviews that Yazzie had pointed the gun at her, threatened to kill her and twice pulled the trigger, the gun misfiring both times. She told one officer Yazzie then ejected the weapons magazine, flipped the top cartridge out, then pushed the magazine back into the gun.
Yazzie spoke during the hearing, saying he is sorry for what he has done and requesting leniency.
Presiding over the case, Chief Judge Douglas Walker said he had seen too many cases where victims changed their story, thus he tends to go with the initial report. He entered a conviction and sentenced Yazzie to three years in prison, with credit for 230 days served.
Yazzie had entered an agreement with the 22nd Judicial District Attorneys office in August pleading guilty to a lesser charge of menacing.
Yazzie was originally charged with attempted second-degree murder, felony menacing, prohibited use of a weapon and underaged consumption of alcohol.
Since then, Green has told the court she is no longer afraid of Yazzie and even requested permission for her and her husband to visit Yazzie in jail.
Following the incident, Green told police she thought to herself, Oh my God, how many more times is the gun just going to click?
She said a juvenile grandchild was able to call 911.
A Cortez police officer stated in a report that he arrived at a residence in the 1300 block of Mesa Verde Street and was contacted by a juvenile witness who said Yazzie had a gun and was saying he was going to kill his grandparents.
On approaching the residence, the officer looked through the window, saw an elderly woman sitting on a couch and heard a male voice shouting multiple times, threatening to kill someone.
Officers burst into the residence and subdued Yazzie with multiple Taser strikes until he was able to be placed in handcuffs. A handgun pushed out of Yazzies hands had seven rounds in the magazine but none in the chamber.
At the time, Green said Yazzie became angry at her for not letting him borrow her truck. She stated he did not have a drivers license. She said he threatened to kill her whole family, began throwing things, slammed doors and threatened to slit her throat. She also said that Yazzie pointed the gun at his grandfather, Lester Green, during the incident and asked his grandfather to shoot him in the head.
A portable breath test on Yazzie resulted in a 0.14 blood alcohol content. In comparison, the legal driving limit is 0.08. He was under the legal drinking age at the time.
Reach Reid Wright at [email protected]