A new trial for Harold Nakai, who is suspected in the rape and killing of a Durango woman in 2007, was postponed Thursday to June 13 because more time is needed for evidence rulings.
Nakai was convicted in October 2008 of sexual assault and criminally negligent homicide but was granted a new trial on appeal because he spoke limited English and made statements to police that should have been deemed involuntary, an appeals court ruled.
Nakai, a Navajo speaker, was sentenced to 48 years in prison at that trial.
Two co-defendants, Derrick Nelson Begaye and Carlton Lee Yazzie, were tried and convicted separately of the same charges.
They were at Thursday’s hearing and indicated they will invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and will not testify at Nakai’s retrial in June.
All three defendants were charged and acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of Nicole Leigh Redhorse, 34, on June 6, 2007.
The men were accused of taking Redhorse to the Spanish Trails Inn & Suites, serving her alcohol and having sex with her.
Redhorse also was vaginally penetrated with a blunt object, possibly a broken hammer, causing severe injuries and bleeding that led to her death.
The coroner at the time said she was too drunk to consent to sex and her injuries were severe, but she could have survived if the defendants had sought medical care.
Nakai’s next court hearing is set for 10 a.m. March 25.
Thomas Feiler is a student at the Catholic University Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, Germany, and an intern at The Durango Herald.