PHOENIX — Federal prosecutors are asking an appeals court to take another
look at a decision that significantly reduced an Arizona man’s sentence on
assault and firearms charges.
A panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had overturned eight of nine
convictions for Damien Zepeda, along with much of his 90-year sentence. The
court said prosecutors did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zepeda’s
bloodline derived from an American Indian tribe recognized by the U.S. Bureau of
That question is part of a test that determines federal jurisdiction over
crimes on reservation land that involve American Indians.
Prosecutors filed for a rehearing this week. They argued the ruling doesn’t
conform to case law in the 9th Circuit.