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Norman Dean YAZZIE





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: September 1, 1996
Date of birth: 1964
Victims profile: His four daughters aged 5, 8, 11 and 13
Method of murder: Shooting (.22-caliber rifle)
Location: Dinnehotso, Arizona, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 85 years on March 11, 1997

On September 1, 1996, Norman Dean Yazzie, a man driven insane by his cheating wife, shot at his five children, killing his four daughters and wounding his son.

The 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 the chest.

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 Children

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

Norman Dean YAZZIE, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 97-10134.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

May 20, 1998.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

Before: SCHROEDER, TROTT, and FERNANDEZ, Circuit Judges.


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. 1988).

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).1

Finally, Yazzie 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. 34-4


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).



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