Tucson man gets 3 life sentences in tribal slaying

Tucson, Arizona (AP) October 2010

A Tucson man has been sentenced to three life sentences in prison for a violent killing in the Gila River Indian Community.

Thirty-four-year-old Eugene Joseph Escalanti got his sentence last week in federal court after he was found guilty by a jury of first-degree murder and kidnapping.

Authorities say Escalanti was negotiating the sale of a recreational vehicle with a man last July 19 when he reportedly began assaulting the victim with a pair of pruning shears.

Prosecutors say Escalanti bound the victim’s hands, had a witness drive them to a remote area of the Gila River reservation and then beat the victim with a wrench and fatally slit his throat.

Escalanti is an enrolled member of the Quechan Indian Tribe.