Murder, arson suspects indicted by federal grand jury
Murder, arson suspects indicted by federal grand juryDefendants had filed motions to have cases dismissed in Okfuskee County CourtBy Ken ChildersONL EditorA pair of murder suspects and two alleged arsonists previously charged in Okfuskee County have been indicted by a federal grand jury.United States Attorney Brian J. Kuester announced on Friday that federal indictments had been handed down for Tommy Ryan Gouge, Joshua Ryan Green, Mark Kevin Dodson and Seth Henry Thomas. All four men had filed motions to have their county cases dismissed, citing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma.Under the ruling, state prosecutors no longer have the authority to pursue criminal charges against Native Americans for major crimes committed in Okfuskee County, because the county – along with much of eastern Oklahoma – is an Indian reservation.Gouge and Green were both charged in February with first-degree murder. Green allegedly killed mother and son Tina Burleigh and Timothy Rush then set their house on fire on Feb. 5. Green was also charged with first-degree arson. Gouge allegedly called the Okemah Police Department on Valentine’s Day and reported that he had killed his wife, Stephanie. According to an affidavit, Gouge told investigators he stabbed her then bludgeoned her to death with a bottle jack.Dodson and Thomas were arrested last fall following an intentionally-set fire that heavily damaged a home on Third Street in Okemah. Both men were charged with felony counts of second-degree arson and endangering human life during arson.Under their federal indictments, Gouge faces one count of murder in Indian Country while Green faces two counts of murder and one count of arson in Indian Country. Dodson and Thomas were each indicted on one count of arson in Indian Country. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the primary investigative agency in all four cases.Other indictmentsAccording to Kuester, the August and September grand juries returned a total of 32 unsealed and four sealed indictments on crimes ranging from kidnapping, federal firearms offenses, robbery, drug trafficking/distribution, child exploitation, aggravated sexual assaults in Indian country, and murder in Indian country. Following is a partial list of the indictments.Mike Avery Thompson, Jr., 30, Okemah, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to commit bodily harm in Indian Country and assault resulting in serious bodily injury in Indian Country.Kyle Elliott Leitka, 31, of Weleetka pleaded guilty to abusive sexual contact in Indian Country. He entered the plea last week following a federal grand jury indictment alleging that on or about June 22, he had sexual contact with the victim without permission. The crime is punishable by not more than two years imprisonment, a fine up to $250,000.00, or both.Kyle Joe Maxwell, 26, of Weleetka was charged with robbery in Indian Country. Maxwell, allegedly robbed a convenience store at gunpoint in Okfuskee County on Nov. 8, 2017.Jimcy McGirt, whose appeal resulted in the landmark high court decision that ruled Congress never disestablished the Creek Nation reservation it created in 1866, has also been federally indicted. The 71-year-old faces three counts of aggravated sexual abuse in Indian Country on allegations that in 1996, he knowingly engaged in sexual acts with a child under the age of 12. He was taken into federal custody last Wednesday.Patrick Murphy, who filed an appeal similar to that of McGirt, was also among those indicted by the federal grand jury. Murphy’s charges include murder in Indian Country, murder in Indian Country in perpetration of kidnapping and kidnapping resulting in death. The charges stem from the kidnapping and knife murder of George Jacobs, on Aug. 28, 1999.