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Date: 05-17-2024

Case Style:

United States of America v. Elias Viola

Case Number: 1:22-cr-00577

Judge: Matthew L. Garcia

Court: The United States District Court for the District of New Mexico (Bernalillo County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: The United States Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque

Defendant's Attorney:

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Albuquerque, New Mexico criminal defense lawyer represented the Defendant charged with Kidnapping and Killing Gallup Man

Naschitti Man Sentenced for Kidnapping and Killing Gallup Man

A federal judge handed down a 30-year prison sentence to a Naschitti man who pleaded guilty to conspiring to kidnap a victim who was lured to a location in Gallup under the false pretense of a meeting a female. The victim was then beaten and stabbed to death.

On September 16, 2021, Elias Viola, 32 years old, and his then-girlfriend, Shannon Etsitty, devised a plan to lure John Doe to a location under the guise of a meetup with Etsitty. Viola sent a text message from Etsitty’s phone propositioning John Doe, who agreed to meet.

Etsitty picked John Doe up from his residence and drove Doe to a location where Viola and a third man attacked Doe in the vehicle, beating Doe with baseball bat and stabbing him with a screwdriver. The group then hid John Doe’s body under nearby brush before returning hours later to move Doe to a field near Etsitty’s mother’s house.

On September 23, 2021, after a weeklong community search, John Doe’s body was found by an unrelated civilian. The Office of the Medical Investigator determined John Doe’s manner of death was homicide caused by multiple injuries.

Investigators reviewed John Doe’s text messages and determined Etsitty was the last person with whom Doe communicated. They also determined that shortly after those communications, she and Viola were involved in single-vehicle crash near John Doe’s apartment. However, the crash site was several miles from the location John Doe’s body was found. Investigators returned to the crash site and found one of Doe’s black shoes, which matched one found near Doe’s body.

Police executed search warrants for Etsitty and Viola’s cellphone and Facebook records. After reviewing messages and confirming Viola was in the area where John Doe’s missing shoe was found, police tried to find the vehicle involved in the crash. On November 16, 2021, the FBI located the car in a tow yard.

On November 30, 2021, the FBI executed a search warrant on the vehicle. The backseat was missing and the front-passenger seat, trunk, and the area beneath the backseat showed signs of blood staining. On April 1, 2022, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Viola’s home. Inside, agents located the missing backseat from the vehicle. Through forensic testing, agents determined blood on the backseat matched John Doe.

When Viola was interviewed by agents, he admitted to attacking John Doe. Viola pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping on September 18, 2023.

Upon his release from prison, Viola will be subject to five years of supervised release.

Etsitty also pled guilty to conspiring to kidnap John Doe. Her sentencing has not yet occurred.

U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, made the announcement today.

The Gallup Resident Agency of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the Navajo Nation Police Department and the Navajo Department of Criminal Investigations, the Gallup Police Department and the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Jones is prosecuting the case.


Defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 30-year prison sentence

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