Man found guilty of beating, drowning girlfriend in front of her children on Navajo Nation

Feb 15, 2024, 4:58 PM

Bears Ears...

FILE — The Bears Ears in Utah’s San Juan County, a 1.35 million acre region studded with tens of thousands of archaeological jewels spread across a landscape of stunning red-rock scenery. (Mike DeBernardo, Deseret News)

(Mike DeBernardo, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — After less than two hours of deliberation, a jury on Thursday found a San Juan County man guilty of beating and drowning his girlfriend.

Randy Lansing, 40, of Aneth, was convicted of murder, a second-degree felony, of a member of the Navajo Nation on tribal land in the Four Corners area.

According to court documents, Lansing drove his girlfriend, Tammy Clark, her two daughters and another woman down to the bank of McElmo Creek, an hour east of Monument Valley, in April 2022. McElmo Creek was a mile from the house where they lived together.

They had been drinking all day, according to witness testimony, and continued to drink while at the creek. Clark’s 10-year-old daughter, who had also been drinking, said that Lansing grew angry and began attacking Clark as she and her younger sister watched helplessly. The girl said Lansing threatened to do the same thing to them if they left the car.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this was no accident,” U.S. Attorney Trina Higgins said to begin the prosecution’s closing arguments Thursday morning. She cited testimony from Clark’s daughter and another woman in the car that day, who saw Lansing repeatedly slam a car door on Clark’s head, beat her with a bat and nearby stones and leave her in the creek.

Court documents say later that night, Lansing, with the help of Clark’s daughter, put the naked body of the nonresponsive woman in the car after attempting CPR for several minutes. Evidence showed Clark was brought to Lansing’s mother’s home, where they waited for an ambulance to take the body to Blue Mountain Hospital in Blanding.

Forensic and medical evidence submitted in the case reported Clark died of a combination of blunt force trauma and drowning. Pictures of Clark’s body were displayed before the court, showing her face swollen and disfigured with a “constellation” of bruising and hemorrhaging all over her body. Throughout the proceeding, Lansing stared at the floor.

Lansing’s attorney, Brian Morris, told the jury “this case is all about what’s missing,” calling into question the testimony of witnesses who had also been drinking, and suggesting the possibility that Clark’s injuries that day were self inflicted, from repeatedly falling down after having too much to drink.

The FBI and the Navajo police, Morris said, found no bloody rock, no bat and no DNA on the car door, claiming the prosecution is not able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what happened that night.

In its rebuttal, the state argued testimony from a doctor showed Clark’s injuries were not consistent with multiple falls. Higgins admitted to the jury “there is a lot missing here,” as they did not find the clothes Clark was wearing, the bat her daughter saw being used by Lansing, or forensic evidence on the car, which had been thoroughly cleaned by the time investigators got to the scene.

The jury believed the evidence presented throughout the week was enough to find Lansing guilty of second-degree murder. District Judge David Nuffer will issue Lansing’s sentence.

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Man found guilty of beating, drowning girlfriend in front of her children on Navajo Nation