A witness testified Friday in a Navajo tribal officers murder case that defendant Thomas Cly changed his truck tires at the station where the witness worked, about a day after the killings - and that he left behind a black flashlight belonging to one of the officers.
This was the first time that Julius Crank, 21, of Oljato, San Juan County, revealed publicly anything about the flashlight, although he had given testimony about eight times previously.The story he gave Friday was different from other versions he related, as recently as last week.
The prosecution was expected to end its case later Friday, and the defense to file motions for acquittal.
The prosecution's star witness gave damaging testimony Thursday afternoon against three of four defendants in the trial of men accused of killing Navajo Tribal Officers Roy Lee Stanley and Roy Begay.
Prosecutors were expected to rest their case Friday, and the defense will take another week presenting its case. The trial is expected to continue Saturday.
Defendants most strongly implicated Thursday by witness Boyd Atene were defendants Vinton Bedonie, Cly and Ben Atene Jr. But he made few damaging statements against the fourth man charged with murder, Marques Atene.
Like some other witnesses in the trial, Boyd Atene has changed his story.
Defense lawyers hammered at previous statements to FBI officers, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, federal grand jurors and lawyers - which Boyd Atene now says were false.
Boyd Atene, 19, said that on Dec. 4, 1987, he attended a basketball game, a dance and a beer-drinking birthday party held for a friend at Promised Rock.
Soon afterward, he said, he left Promised Rock for another beer party at a bonfire in a wash near Goulding's, San Juan County. He described six private vehicles in the wash and named about a dozen people as present.
Stanley arrived in his police truck and walked to the bonfire, he said. Bedonie, Cly and Ben Atene Jr. walked up to him. They talked awhile, and "next thing I know, Vinton (Bedonie) attacked Roy Lee Stanley . . .
"He tackled him by the waist. Then they began wrestling around on the ground." The other two stood nearby. Then Bedonie got Stanley in a "double-chicken wing," pinning his arms from behind, he said.
While Stanley lay there, Ben Atene Jr. kicked him on the left side, he said. About then, two of Boyd Atene's friends took off from the truck, and he wanted to run away too but didn't dare because he had borrowed the truck.
"I saw Vinnie Bedonie handcuff Roy Lee," while they both were on the ground. Then Cly and Atene Jr. picked up Stanley by the arms and walked him to the passenger side of his truck. Bedonie walked behind with his hands on the cuffs' chain, he said.
Meanwhile, Marques Atene "was still at the bonfire."
Next, Stanley was walked to the rear of the police truck. All this time, because he was in a truck with the windows up and the stereo playing, he didn't hear anything, Boyd Atene said.
Both rear doors of the officer's truck were opened and then Bedonie walked over to Boyd Atene, he said. He rolled down the window to talk with him. Bedonie told him to get out and go with him.
"That's when I saw (that) he had a gun in his hand."
He got out and Bedonie walked with him to Stanley's truck. He opened the front door of Stanley's truck and Boyd Atene got in the driver's seat.
Marques Atene helped two others, not charged, pick up beer cans around the bonfire and throw them in the back of a pickup. Cly and one of these two swept up tracks in the area, he said.
Bedonie went to the rear of the truck, and "I hear two shots, gunshots, back of the panel (truck)," Boyd Atene said.
Two men not been charged in the case went to the back of the police truck then, and Cly walked Marie Haycock - Boyd Atene's half-sister - over too, he said.
Earlier, Haycock said she was ordered to check if Stanley was alive.
Boyd Atene thought Stanley was loaded into the truck then, because it rocked a little and then the doors were closed.
Soon afterward, Begay arrived, headlights shining, red and blue top light bar on top flashing.
"Vinnie went up to him when he pulled in . . . He (Bedonie) still had the gun with him."