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Sentence delayed for man in killing of Navajo police officer

GALLUP, N.M. — The sentencing of a man who pleaded guilty in the fatal shooting of a Navajo police officer has been delayed until March.

The delay was announced after Kirby Cleveland’s attorneys asked for more time to see if a coronavirus vaccine will be ready in time to bring witnesses to testify on his behalf in an attempt to receive a reduced sentence, the Gallup Independent reported Monday.

Cleveland pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. He also pleaded guilty to violating his conditions of supervised release regarding a previous incident in which he is accused of assaulting a woman with a baseball bat, the Independent reported.

The sentencing hearing in the killing of officer Houston Largo was initially scheduled to begin in March of this year but was delayed at the request of Cleveland’s attorneys. They argued that they needed more time to gather evidence and locate witnesses to testify on Cleveland’s mental condition at the time of the killing. Cleveland’s attorneys then requested several delays during the summer as a result of the pandemic.

Cleveland had acknowledged that in 2017, he consumed alcohol and shot and killed Largo with a rifle. He told the court he had been attacked by a group of bandits armed with bats days prior and fired at the officer believing he was another combatant.