FARMINGTON — For the fourth time since March, the trial of four San Juan County residents, one of whom remains wanted by the FBI for the execution-style, triple-murder near Hogback, has been postponed — this time until February.

Federal authorities continue their search for Michael Johnson, 26, of Shiprock, who is one of four suspects charged with the Nov. 7, 2005, murders of Bobby Fulton, 20, Lars Yazzie, 18, and Vicki Benally, 26.

"At this point, (Johnson) is still a fugitive," FBI spokesman Bill Elwell said.

Also charged with the murders, along with Johnson, are Eugina Cowboy, 22, and Darcy Manus, 22, both of Shiprock, and Chuck Nahkai, 29, of Belclabito. Manus and Nahkai remain in federal custody.

Each suspect, including Johnson, faces three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of unlawfully using and carrying a .9 mm semi-automatic handgun and shotgun, and distribution of a controlled substance, methamphetamine.

The trial for the four suspects was scheduled to begin today in federal District Court in Albuquerque. However, federal court documents state attorneys are awaiting forensic evidence.

"Samples for purpose of forensic testing of the above named defendants were taken on April 21, 2006," court documents state. "To date, the testing has not been completed."

When the results are completed, attorneys for Manus, Nahkai and Cowboy require time to "digest the results and determine if an independent analysis is necessary.



U.S. District Judge John Conway postponed the trial until Feb. 1, 2007.

Federal authorities have stated that Johnson was the "ringleader" in the shooting, which occurred around 12:30 a.m. Nov. 7, 2005, following a suspected methamphetamine deal.

Authorities responded to the incident near the Hogback Chapter House west of Farmington where Fulton, Yazzie and Benally were allegedly found with multiple gunshot wounds.

Police arrested Cowboy, Manus and Nahkai. However, Johnson escaped capture and continues to be wanted by the FBI.

"We are doing our regular investigation. We have nothing new to discuss at this point," Elwell said in reference to the search for Johnson.

FBI officials have placed a $10,000 reward for information leading to Johnson's capture. He is described as a 6-foot-4-inch, 220 pound male of Native American and African American descent.

According to the FBI's Web site, Johnson is believed to be somewhere within the state or in Juarez, Mexico. He is also known to travel to locations in the Four Corners area and the Navajo Nation.

The FBI considers Johnson to be armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information regarding Johnson's whereabouts is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at (505) 334-TIPS (8477) or the FBI in Albuquerque at (505) 889-1300.

Nathan Gonzalez: