Twelve cases dismissed in wake of McGirt decision
By Ken Childers
Twelve criminal cases involving Native Americans have been dismissed in Okfuskee County District Court on grounds that the state does not have jurisdiction over them.
On Sept. 22, District Judge Lawrence Parish heard motions of dismissal filed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the McGirt v. Oklahoma case. Parish had begun hearing the motions a week earlier, but stopped the proceedings and bumped them to the following week.
According to court records, the county has dismissed the cases of Jennifer Beth Brown, Averie Shawn Deere and Jerome Wilbanks, all of whom had been previously charged with second-degree burglary. Jeffrey Gilbert Franklin, whose charges include second degree burglary, concealing stolen property, resisting an officer, possession of a firearm after a previous felony conviction and contraband possession, was also granted a dismissal.
Other dismissals include Jamie Lynn Bear (embezzlement), Kendall Scott Hummingbird (domestic abuse-assault and battery) and Matthew Joseph Rice, Jr. (grand larceny, drug/paraphernalia possession and malicious injury to property).
Tommy Gouge, Joshua Green, Mark Kevin Dodson, Seth Henry Thomas and Kyle Joe Maxwell had their county cases dismissed, but all five were indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this month.
Gouge allegedly called the Okemah Police Department on Valentine’s Day and reported that he had killed his wife, Stephanie. Green allegedly killed mother and son Tina Burleigh and Timothy Rush then set their house on fire on Feb. 5.
Dodson and Thomas were arrested last fall and charged with felony counts of second-degree arson and endangering human life during arson. Maxwell allegedly robbed a convenience store in Okfuskee County in November 2017 and now faces charges of robbery in Indian Country.
Under the Supreme Court ruling, a large chunk of eastern Oklahoma, including all of Okfuskee County, remains an Indian reservation and state prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal charges against Native Americans for major crimes committed on tribal lands.
The ruling’s namesake, Jimcy McGirt, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 18 and taken into federal custody. 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.