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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Crime Bulletin: Reehallio Carroll Pleads Guilty to Murdering a Nun in Her Navajo Reservation Home

     Twenty-one-year-old Reehallio Carroll, a burglar and thief addicted to alcohol and drugs, lived on the Navajo Indian Reservation in northwestern New Mexico. Just after midnight on November 1, 2009, he broke into a house trailer at the reservation's St. Berard Mission, an outpost inhabited by nuns attached to the Order of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. The trailer Carroll forced his way into was the home of 64-year-old Sister Marguerite Bartz.

     Carroll knew he was breaking into an occupied dwelling. (Under common law, breaking into an occupied home at night, by itself, was a capital crime.) Carroll entered Sister Marguerite's home to steal cash and anything he could sell to support his addictions. If the nun who lived there got in his way, that would be her problem.

    Sister Marguerite confronted the burglar when he entered her bedroom. Instead of backing out of the trailer, Carroll hit her in the head six times with his flashlight. As the nun lay bleeding and semi-conscoious on the floor of the room, the home invader kicked and stomped her.

     With Sister Marguerite dying in a pool of her own blood, Carroll rummaged through her trailer home for cash and valuables. Before leaving the scene and driving off in the nun's car, Carroll returned to the bedroom. To make sure he would be leaving a dead woman behind, Carroll finished the victim off by tying a shirt around her neck and mouth.

     The following morning, when Sister Marguerite failed to show up for Mass, one of her mission colleagues discovered her corpse.

     A couple of days after the cold-blooded killing, police officers arrested Reehallio Carroll. He was driving his victim's car.

     Because crimes committed on Indian Reservations are federal offenses, the FBI took charge of the case. An assistant United States attorney out of Albuquerque charged Carroll with first degree murder, a crime that under federal law carries a mandatory life sentence.

     On April 5, 2013, U. S. District Court Judge William Johnson accepted Carroll's plea to second degree murder. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Carroll will be sentenced in June to no more that 40 years in prison.

     Members of Sister Marguerite's family, as well as her fellow nuns at St. Berard's, approved of the guilty plea and reduced sentence. They spoke of "forgiveness, redemption, and rehabilitation." Rehabilitation? Good heavens. Mr. Carroll got off light because he murdered a nun. Had he killed a police officer, no one would be talking about forgiveness.

     In this brutal theft-motivated homicide, forgiveness requires a degree of compassion and love of mankind that I do not possess. I can't even forgive the judge who authorized the plea. 

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