Editor’s note: This story contains disturbing details of a sexual assault.Herald Staff Report
A third trial for a suspect in a 2007 sexual assault case began Monday with jury selection and an explanation of court procedures to the potential jurors.
After a jury in June was unable to reach a verdict on the sex assault charge, prosecutors chose to retry Harold Nakai, 43, of Shiprock, who was convicted in 2008 of criminally negligent homicide and sexually assaulting his girlfriend at the Spanish Trails Inn & Suites at 3141 Main Ave.
Prosecutors say Nakai and two other men, Derrick Nelson Begaye and Carlton Lee Yazzie, took Nakai’s heavily intoxicated girlfriend, Nicole Leigh Redhorse, to the motel where all three had sexual interactions with her at different times.
One of the men used a blunt object, possibly a broken hammer handle, to penetrate her vaginally, which caused internal injuries. Nakai admitted he had sex with Redhorse later in the evening, then fell asleep. A coroner determined Redhorse, 34, bled to death.
Nakai was given a second trial when an appeals court ruled the defendant made statements to police that 6th Judicial District Judge Jeffrey Wilson should have suppressed at trial.
During the second trial, the 12-person jury convicted Nakai of criminally negligent homicide, which carries a three-year maximum jail sentence, but could not reach consensus on the sexual assault charge, for which Nakai could receive a lifetime prison sentence.
While prosecutors said Redhorse was too intoxicated to consent to sex, Nakai’s defense argued that the couple, both heavy drinkers, frequently had drunken sex and Nakai was unaware of Redhorse’s injuries.
The trial is expected to take two weeks.