Norman Dean Yazzie, a man driven insane by his cheating wife, shot at
his five children, killing his four daughters and wounding his son.
vengeful familicide fired 35 times at his children inside the family's
trailer home on a Navajo reservation in Dinnehotso, a small community
just south of the Arizona-Utah border.
Yazzie shot his four daughters
repeatedly in the head with a .22-caliber rifle. His 11-year-old son
survived the rampage by playing dead as he was shot in the shoulder and
Before the killings Yazzie wrote a rambling note to his wife,
Cecilia, describing his outrage over her ongoing affair with another man.
Life, Plus 85 Years, For Killing
The New York Times
March 11, 1997
A man who struck back at his
cheating wife by fatally shooting their four
daughters was sentenced today to life in prison
without parole, plus 85 years.
The man, Norman Dean Yazzie,
stood silently with his head bowed and hands
clasped behind his back as Judge Earl Carroll of
Federal District Court imposed the sentence.
Mr. Yazzie fired at least 35
times on his children on Sept. 1 inside the
family's trailer home in Dinnehotso, a small
community on the Navajo reservation just south
of the Arizona-Utah border.
Mr. Yazzie, 33, was convicted
of four counts of first-degree murder and eight
other felony charges in December. Prosecutors
could not seek the death penalty because the
Navajo Nation does not allow it.
Mr. Yazzi's 11-year-old son,
Rhyan, played dead as he was shot, and survived
to testify against his father.
145 F.3d 1343
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Norman Dean YAZZIE, Defendant-Appellant.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth
May 20, 1998.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the
District of Arizona.
Before: SCHROEDER, TROTT, and FERNANDEZ, Circuit
Submitted May 14, 1998
CARROLL, J. Presiding
Norman Dean Yazzie
appeals his jury conviction and sentence for first degree murder (18
U.S.C. §§ 1153 & 1111), assault with intent to commit murder (18 U.S.C.
§§ 1153 & 113(a)(1)); use of firearm in a crime of violence (18 U.S.C. §
924(c)), attempted arson of a dwelling (18 U.S.C. §§ 1153 & 81), and
assault of a federal officer (18 U.S.C. § 111). We have jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm.
Yazzie contends that
the district court erred by failing to strike a potential juror from the
jury pool because she was exempt from service under 28 U.S.C. §
1863(b)(6). Even if we were to assume the district court's failure to
strike the potential juror was error, reversal is not warranted. The
record shows that the venireperson in question did not serve as a juror
in this case and Yazzie has failed to allege that any separate
constitutional violation occurred. See United States v. Duque, 62 F.3d
1146, 1152 (9th Cir. 1995).
Yazzie next contends
that the trial court erred by limiting the testimony of his expert
witness, Dr. Hammerschlag, under Federal Rule of Evidence 704(b). Our
review of the record discloses neither an abuse of discretion nor any
manifest error. See United States v. Lewis, 837 F.2d 415, 418 (9th Cir.
Dr. Hammerschlag was permitted to testify that Yazzie suffered from
acute dissociative disorder as well as the cultural syndrome of amok and
was allowed to describe in detail the characteristics and effects of
these conditions. The court, however, sustained the government's
objection when the defense sought further explanation on what specific
role amok played on the day of the murders and how it related to "the
way Norman Yazzie was" on the day of the murders. This approach
comported fully with the requirements of rule 704(b). See Fed. R. Evid.
Rule 704(b); United States v. Juvenile Male, 864 F.2d 641, 647-48 (9th
Cir. 1988) (court properly refused to allow question concerning
defendant's state of mind); see also United States v. Webb, 115 F.3d
711, 716 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 118 S. Ct. 429 (1997) (noting that
rule 704 precludes questions regarding a defendant's intent or knowledge).
contends that the district court's imposition of consecutive sentences
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 924(c) was improper because his conduct fell
within the more specific terms of section 924(j). However, section
924(j) is a sentencing enhancement provision that extends the maximum
term for a section 924(c) violation when death results; it neither
alters nor modifies the requirement that the sentences be imposed
consecutively. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(j).
This disposition is not appropriate for publication
and may not be cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as
provided by 9th Cir. R. 36-3
The panel unanimously finds this case suitable for
decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. App. P. 34(a); 9th Cir. R.
Yazzie also contends that he was precluded from
asking whether a person in a dissociative state would know what he was
doing. However, the record shows that Dr. Hammerschlag was allowed to
briefly testify that a person in such a state would have no conscious
awareness of what was going on. The fact that the court limited further
testimony on this issue on the grounds that it was on the verge of
impermissible territory, was proper. See United States v. Cook, 53 F.3d
1029, 1031 (9th Cir. 1995) (noting that testimony regarding whether
someone with particular disorder would know what he was doing came very
close to "the very kind of testimony forbidden by Rule 704(b)"); see
also Webb, 115 F.3d at 716 (noting that Rule 704(b) would preclude
expert's opinion as to whether a hypothetical defendant in a
hypothetical factual scenario, indistinguishable from the defendant and
facts in the case before court, would have the necessary intent).