Navajo Man Charged in Death of 11-Year-Old Ashlynne Mike Pleads Not Guilty to More Counts

IMAGE: Tom Begaye Jr.
Tom Begaye Jr. in an arrest photo.San Juan County Detention Center via AP

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By Alex Johnson

A New Mexico man accused of kidnapping and killing 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike on Navajo Nation land last month pleaded not guilty Tuesday to new charges, one of them involving her 9-year-old brother.

Tom Begaye Jr., 27, of Waterflow, New Mexico, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque to two additional counts of aggravated sexual abuse resulting in death in the killing of Ashlynne and to an additional count of kidnapping of a minor in the case of her brother, identified in charging documents only as "John Doe."

Ashlynne Mike in a school photo.Central Consolidated School District

The new charges were lodged in a federal indictment filed May 24. Begaye, also a member of the Navajo Nation, has already pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, kidnapping of a minor and committing a crime on an Indian reservation.

Related: Man Charged in Abduction and Killing of Girl, 11, in New Mexico

All of the counts carry mandatory or maximum sentences of life in prison if Begaye is convicted.

Begaye didn't speak during his arraignment except to acknowledge that he had read the indictment. He was shackled at the wrists and ankles, The Associated Press reported.

Tom Begaye Jr. in an arrest photo.San Juan County Detention Center via AP

After his brief court appearance, several of Ashlynne's relatives left the courtroom weeping, the AP reported.

The indictment alleges that Begaye killed Ashlynne by striking her with a tire iron on May 2 on the Navajo Indian Reservation near Shiprock. The FBI said in court documents that Begaye admitted that he abducted Ashlynne because he wanted to have sex with her.

Federal prosecutors said Begaye was being prosecuted under a federal anti-violence initiative targeting "the worst of the worst" violent offenders.