By JOSH NEWTON
A man convicted of child sexual abuse last September and sentenced to 30 years in prison is asking for a new trial after the alleged victim, his adopted daughter, said she was threatened by prosecutors and told by investigators to lie about what happened.
Attorney A.J. Garcia, on behalf of his client, Stacey Garrett Begay, recently filed a motion for the new trial based on purportedly “new” evidence – specifically, relating to the alleged threats made toward Christina Begay, whom prosecutors describe as the victim.
Christina and her adoptive mother, Terry Begay, recently contacted the Daily Press, asking to tell Christina’s side of the story. After speaking to the Press in-person with her mother in December, Christina responded to a series of questions via email to describe what she believes is “possible misconduct” by officials who investigated and prosecuted the case against her adoptive father.
“I’m told to just move on and get over it, but how can I when not only have I lost my family, but my family has lost so many other things, such as education, jobs, and close friends?” said Christina.
Assistant District Attorney B.J. Baker prosecuted Stacey, using hand-written statements from the three Begays; police reports and testimony of the responding officers; and testimony provided in court by Terry Begay.
According to a police report filed by former Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy Preston Oosahwee, officers were dispatched April 21, 2011, to a home where a domestic disturbance was reported. Oosahwee said he was met at the front door by Terry Begay, who claimed nothing was going on. The deputy said Stacey then left the home and said his wife had shot at him with a gun.
Oosahwee said Terry then verified her husband’s claim, telling the deputy she arrived at home and found Stacey in Christina’s room. Stacey was not wearing pants, and Christina was in bed with only a shirt on, she told the officer. Stacey told the deputy “something” had been going on between him and Christina.
Oosahwee said he found Christina sitting on a couch, shaking and crying, with a small cut under her swollen eye. He found a loaded gun in a closet after Terry Begay told him where to find it.
Deputies noticed four bullet holes in one wall of the home where Terry allegedly shot at her husband; four empty casings were found. A fifth bullet hole was found on a separate wall, and the fifth shot was allegedly fired by Terry at Christina, according to Oosahwee’s report.
Sheriff’s Investigator Kathy Young was also called to the scene. She said the deputies were concerned about possible sexual abuse that was coming to light as family members talked about what had supposedly happened. Stacey and Christina Begay then allegedly began to detail a sexual relationship they had been involved in for several months.
But Christina now says her written statements weren’t factual. According to Christina, she and her boyfriend left school early that day and ended up having sex in her room. Her boyfriend later left, and she stayed in her bed with only her shirt on.
“I thought I would have plenty of time to get dressed before my dad got home, but he came home sooner than I thought,” said Christina. “I was scared because I thought [Stacey Begay] saw my boyfriend leave.”
According to Christina, Stacey arrived and went to his room without saying anything. She called him into her room and began to ask questions, trying to figure out whether he had seen her boyfriend. Christina said her dad was fully clothed and was preparing to go bowling.
“It was about three or four minutes later that my mom comes home and I begin to freak out because I had a feeling my mom found out about me and my boyfriend,” said Christina. “She comes to my room and my dad steps to the side.”
Terry went to the room and asked Christina what was going on. Investigators and prosecutors have said Terry heard laughter coming from her daughter’s room because Stacey had been tickling Christina. But Stacey recently told state officials he ran into a door, causing Christina to laugh.
Terry then began to ask Christina to get up out of her bed, but Christina refused several times until she became upset and finally stood up, showing her mom she was half-naked.
“That is when my mom saw I did not have any pants on,” said Christina. “I try and get off the bed and I get tangled in my covers, and I fall off my bed and hit my head on the floor really hard and broke my glasses.”
In a hand-written statement Stacey Begay provided to deputies, he explained he was hiding behind the door in Christina’s room when Terry became upset because she saw his pants on the floor. Stacey wrote that Terry then went to a bedroom, retrieved a gun, pointed it at his head when he was in the living room, and pulled the trigger once. Stacey said Terry then went to Christina’s room, dragged her into the living room and fired a shot at the girl, who was 16 at the time.
Terry Begay then fired several more shots at Stacey and threatened to kill both Stacey and Christina, Stacey wrote in one statement from that night. Stacey also detailed a number of calls he was forced to make to family members to tell them what was going on.
In the first statement she wrote for Young, Christina also said her mother shot a gun and assaulted her.
Stacey Begay said he and Christina began having sexual encounters in December 2010, when Christina broke up with her boyfriend and the two began to talk about the issue. He explained in one report how the two began by sitting next to each other on a couch, which led to his touching Christina and eventually to sex.
“We had been doing this on and off again 10 times or more,” Stacey wrote in his second statement, for Young.
Stacey explained in detail that Christina made him “feel good about” himself, and would do things he asked her to do, like baking cookies and cakes and making dinner.
“She would do this to please me,” Stacey wrote. “She would tell me that I’m No. 1 to her, that I was the best father and that she loved me no matter what. She would never ridicule me, talk down to me, or criticize me. She made me feel good about myself.”
In one of Christina’s statements, she explained she broke up with her boyfriend four months earlier and began to talk about it with her adoptive father, and that later led to sexual touching.
In Christina’s second statement – which Young said was made about an hour after the first, after Young interviewed Stacey – Christina indicated she and her father had been having sex for almost a year, “at least 30 to 40 times in this year.”
But Christina now recants the timeline and details from that night. She says her adoptive mother never opened fire, and that she and her father tried telling police there was never any sexual contact between them.
“The police accused my mother, keyword being ‘accused,’ of firing a gun at me and my dad,” said Christina. “At no time did the police test my mother to see if she ever fired a gun.”
Christina said police arrived at the house and one officer began to look inside a closet, where he found a gun beneath some blankets. Other officers asked Stacey to make a written statement, Christina said.
“My dad says OK, and he begins to write down what happened and the second officer tells my dad to write down that we have been having sex,” Christina said, “and how long it has been going on and how it all started and why. My dad and I both told them nothing has been going on. The officer gets mad and tells my dad not to lie because he is caught, and he was going to jail anyway.”
Stacey Begay again told the officers nothing happened, according to Christina, but the officers became upset and started again to tell her dad what to write. Christina said she was then sent to her room.
When Young arrived, she met Christina in her room and told her to write down what happened.
“I begin to write down the truth, that nothing happened,” said Christina. “When I finish my report, I give it to the investigator, and she leaves the room for about half an hour. She returns and asks me to write another report stating that my dad and I were having sex and when it started, how it started, and why. I tell the investigator no, that none of that happened.”
Christina claims Young told her Stacey couldn’t hurt her, and she didn’t need to lie for him. Christina says she then became scared.
“I was so scared, and all I wanted was my mom and for everyone to stop yelling at me and telling me what to do,” said Christina. “I was so scared so I wrote down what they wanted.”
Young said Christina’s current recollection of that day in 2011 is inaccurate. Young said she arrived and asked Christina to start working on her first statement, and while Christina wrote, Young went to speak with Stacey in the living room.
Young said Stacey opened up to her in great detail about the sexual encounters he’d supposedly had with his adopted daughter.
“It just all came out,” said Young.
That’s when Stacey allegedly inked out on paper how his supposed sexual relationship with Christina began, and how Christina made him feel.
After getting Stacey’s statement, Young went to speak with Christina a second time and asked her to provide more details, based on what Stacey had told the investigator.
“Her dad told us what happened, and he’d said enough to raise an eyebrow,” said Young.
Young said she likely did tell Christina she didn’t need to be afraid when she spoke with her the second time. Both statements Christina wrote for Young detailed the sexual allegations, though the second included more information.
“There is no other statement before the first one [Christina] wrote for me,” said Young. “She never started writing that nothing happened. Her second statement is just in more detail. No one was yelling at her, no one was telling her what to do, but she probably was scared. This was a domestic situation; shots were fired, and that’s why we were there in the first place.”
Stacey and Terry Begay were both arrested by sheriff’s deputies that night and transported to the Cherokee County Detention Center. Terry Begay was never charged for the alleged shooting, but Stacey Begay was charged with felony child sexual abuse. He was found guilty by a jury last September and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
“I was scared and everybody was yelling at me, and I just wanted it all to go away, so I lied,” Christina told the Press. “It was dumb, yeah, I'm not going to lie; but I just said fine, I'll write it. But [Stacey Begay] is innocent. He didn’t do anything.”