Judge to sentence convicted killer

Plea deal calls for 30-year term

Keywords: Cortez, Homicide, Teen-agers,

A Cortez teenager convicted of second-degree murder is likely to receive a 30-year prison term when sentenced by Chief District Court Judge Doug Walker today.

Initially charged with murder and attempted murder, Jeroen Begay, 19, avoided the possibility of life behind bars by pleading guilty to second-degree murder in July. A masked Begay murdered 21-year-old Natalie Hatch in the doorway of her home with a 12-gauge shotgun on Sept. 19, 2013.

State statutes would have allowed prosecutors to pursue the death penalty in the case. After considering Begay’s age, lack of criminal history and level of intoxication on the night in question, District Attorney Will Furse said he wouldn’t have sought the death penalty.

Two additional counts of attempted first-degree murder were dropped as a result of the plea agreement. After shooting Hatch, Begay entered the residence and fired four additional rounds. An 18-year-old victim was injured.

According to initial police reports, victims and others had been drinking with the suspect throughout the day. Witnesses told police the shooting occurred about 10:15 p.m. at Cedar Terrace Apartments after a physical confrontation that arose a half-hour earlier. Police said Begay fled the scene to a relative’s home in Arizona after the shooting.

According to state law, Begay must serve 75 percent of his 30-year prison term before becoming eligible for parole.

tbaker@cortezjournal.com