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Federal appeals court to rehear case on Indian status

PHOENIX — A federal appeals court has granted a request by prosecutors to
reconsider a decision that significantly reduces an Arizona man’s sentence on
assault and firearms charges.

Damien Zepeda’s attorney, Michele Moretti, had said the government failed to
prove Zepeda’s bloodline derived from an American Indian tribe recognized by the
federal government.

Federal prosecutors said there was sufficient evidence that Zepeda’s bloodline
derives from the Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona.

The bloodline question is part of a test that determines federal jurisdiction
over crimes on reservation land that involve Indians.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned eight
of nine convictions for Zepeda, along with much of his 90-year sentence.

The appeals court now says a larger panel of judges will consider the case.

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