Court revises opinion in AZ Indian status case - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Court revises opinion in AZ Indian status case

FLAGSTAFF, AZ (AP) -

A federal appeals court is sticking with a ruling that significantly reduced an Arizona man's sentence on assault and firearms charges.

But the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals made an important revision in its opinion of the case that questioned Damien Zepeda's status as America Indian.

The panel initially said it's up to a jury to determine whether a tribe is recognized by the federal government. The panel said Thursday that it's up to a judge.

Nonetheless, the appellate court says prosecutors didn't prove Zepeda is a member of a federally recognized tribe. That's the first step to charging him with felony offenses on reservation land.

The court ordered Zepeda resentenced on a conspiracy charge that carries a maximum punishment of five years. He had been serving 90 years.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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