Homicide charges against a former Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office deputy have been dismissed.
Former deputy Ryan Young was charged with two counts of negligence homicide last year after he collided head-on with Jared Whipple-Wilkerson, 20, and Grace Blaylock, 22.
According to online court reports, the case was dismissed due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Several criminal cases have been tossed recently due to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of McGirt v. Oklahoma, but not all have been turned over to the Cherokee Nation.
The high court ruled Oklahoma lacks jurisdiction over crimes on tribal reservations. If both the defendant and victim are Native, or one is, federal authorities would have jurisdiction over felony cases, and tribes over misdemeanors.
Local officials say the state would have jurisdiction over cases wherein both the defendant and victim are non-Native, even if they take place on the “reservation.” State prosecutors do not have criminal jurisdiction over crimes involving Natives with the Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Muscogee nations – and perhaps others.
At the time the collision occurred in July 2020, Young had been responding to a report of a fight in progress that involved weapons. His vehicle struck the 1998 Honda Accord on North 510 Road.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Dustin Thornton was assigned to conduct a traffic homicide investigation.
“The scene was mapped and photographed, and potential items of evidenced were collected,” Thornton said. “Witnesses were interviewed and statements were collected. Toxicological testing was completed on blood samples from both Ryan Young and Jared Whipple-Wilkerson, and no alcohol or drugs were detected in either driver.”
Thornton said Young failed to stay right of center on a road of sufficient width, and was traveling in excess of the speed limit.
Sheriff Jason Chennault said Young resigned from CCSO November 2020. Young had been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the probe, and saw a critical incident counselor.