Shonya Sam of Navajo Nation Gets 14 Years for Disfiguring Child in Horrific Attack
A Navajo woman was sentenced to about 14 years in prison on Tuesday for a horrific attack committed against a child she reportedly believed was "evil."
Shonya Tanya Sam and her brother, both of Many Farms, put the 7-year-old girl through a bizarre, hellish experience for several days in early January 2013, records show, leaving the girl disabled.
Her brother, Pernell Sam, (apparently the same transgender Navajo mentioned in a 2003 Associated Press article), didn't take a plea deal like Shonya Sam did; his case is still being processed in federal court.
The pair's crime, (in Pernell's case, alleged crime), shocks the senses.
Apparently, the brother and sister lived with several children in a small home in Many Farms, a community of about 1,300 north of Chinle. Shonya Sam is the victim's mother. One day in early January, the father of the victimized girl showed up to get her. He called for help after finding her so swollen and injured, especially about the face, that she could scarcely be recognized.
The girl was hospitalized; the Sam siblings and other children in the house were interviewed. The horrible story emerged: Somehow, possibly after a meth binge, the siblings had become convinced the little girl needed the "evil" burned out of her.
Shonya Sam (and, allegedly, her brother), took hot ashes from the fireplace and rubbed them on parts of her daughter's body. Hot ash, bark, hot water and other objects were forced into the girl's eyes. Hot water was poured over her face and lower body. She was also kept from food and drink for at least 24 hours before being rescued by authorities.
The girl was placed in a medically induced coma and, against expectations, survived her injuries. It was unclear from court records whether the girl lost her sight, but she's been receiving ongoing care.
Shonya Sam admitted to the allegations in her plea deal. U.S. District Judge Neil Wake sentenced her on Tuesday to 166 months in a federal prison, to be followed by five years' supervised probation.
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.