Tre C. James, the boyfriend of Jamie Yazzie, a Navajo woman whose case gained international attention as part of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement, has been convicted of first-degree murder. The verdict was reached on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Arizona.
In addition to the murder charge, James was found guilty of multiple acts of domestic violence against three former intimate partners. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 29 and faces mandatory imprisonment.
Jamie Yazzie, a 32-year-old mother of three, went missing in the summer of 2019 from her community of Pinon on the Navajo Nation. Despite an extensive search, her remains were not discovered until November 2021 on the neighboring Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona.
Throughout the seven-day trial, many of Yazzie’s family members, including her mother, father, grandmother, and other relatives and friends, attended the proceedings. U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino emphasized the importance of addressing the rights of missing and murdered indigenous persons, highlighting the need for investigation, prosecution, community engagement, cultural competence, and active listening to family members.
The case of Jamie Yazzie gained prominence through the grassroots movement of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, which aims to draw attention to the widespread violence faced by Indigenous women and girls in the United States and Canada. The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs has characterized the violence against Indigenous women as a crisis.
According to a 2016 study by the National Institute of Justice, more than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime, with 84.3% reporting such incidents. This includes 56.1% who have experienced sexual violence.