Alleged murderers have been granted bond appearances and filed for dismissals due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling in July.
The court ruled the Muskogee (Creek) Nation had never relinquished its "reservation," and that Jimcy McGirt, a convicted child molester, should have been tried in federal rather than state court. Since then, other tribes have read the ruling as applicable to their jurisdictions.
Attorneys representing Denise Lynn Grass, for example, filed for dismissal on her 2019 first-degree murder case. According to court documents, Grass’ bond was reduced to $250,000 and she is to have no contact with family nor leave the state. As of Sept. 25, Grass hasn’t posted bond.
Grass is a member of the Cherokee Nation, and allegations made against her occurred within the boundaries of Cherokee Nation.
Paperwork filed by the Cherokee Nation Registration Department does verify that Grass is a registered citizen of CN.
“Ms. Grass is a member of the Cherokee Nation charged with crimes enumerated within the Major Crimes Act, that allegedly occurred within the territorial boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. Therefore, this case should be dismissed, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction,” the report said.
According to online court reports, Grass is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 19 at 1 p.m.
A motion to dismiss was also filed in the case of an 18-year-old charged with first-degree manslaughter. Jeriah Budder was charged after he shot and killed David Jumper in April.
According to court records, Budder’s bond was set at $40,000 and his next court date is slated for Oct. 14 at 10 a.m.
District 27 District Attorney Jack Thorp said bonds are routinely set by the court and, often times, over the prosecutor’s objection.
“Several of the pending murder cases in Cherokee County involve members of federally recognized tribes,” Thorp said. “We anticipate at some point in the near future that the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals will take on the issue as to what exactly the impact McGirt will be in Cherokee County State Court cases.”
Prosectors have said the McGirt ruling will bring many criminal cases back to square one. Cases wherein a Native American was convicted of one of the major crimes – murder, manslaughter, rape, assault with intent to kill, arson, burglary, and larceny – could be retried in federal court.
Depending on the circumstances, a crime committed in Indian Country could be sent to federal, tribal, or state courts. If both the defendant and the victim are Native, federal authorities would have jurisdiction over felony cases and tribes over misdemeanors.
The same situation applies if the defendant is Native and the victim is non-Native. If a defendant is non-Native and the victim Native, federal courts would have jurisdiction over both felonies and misdemeanors. The state would have jurisdiction over cases wherein both the defendant and victim are non-Native, even if they take place on the "reservation."
Keia Marie Beaver’s attorney filed for dismissal based on the McGirt ruling. Due to COVID-19, jury trials are still undetermined at this time. Beaver was arrested in 2017 when she admitted to shooting Jeremy Wayne Faglie with a .22-caliber rifle at their Hulbert home.
On July 30, Beaver was granted a release from jail with global positioning satellite monitoring. She is to have no contact with the victim’s family or witnesses. She must report to the district attorney’s office on a weekly basis, and she is allowed to work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but otherwise she will be on house arrest.
On Aug. 27, Beaver appeared in court where District Judge Doug Kirkley allowed her to attend church on Sundays.
Attorney’s representing Saiane Studie filed for dismissal for “lack of subject matter jurisdiction” on her 2019 first-degree murder case. Studie was charged in the stabbing death of her stepfather when she was 15 years old. According to Thorp, no bond has been set for Studie.
“We will be prepared to handle those cases or work closely with the federal government should they elect to take on those cases,” Thorp said. "Furthermore, should the U.S. attorney decline prosecution of those matters, we will also be working closely with the Cherokee Nation attorney general to ensure all of the Cherokee County McGirt-related cases are transferred and will provide any support we lawfully can.”