Federal murder charges in 11 cases due to McGirt

Mike Seals - May 16, 2021 11:10 pm

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) — Eleven men whose murder convictions in Oklahoma were overturned because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on state jurisdiction in tribal territories have been charged with federal murder counts, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday.

A federal grand jury in Muskogee issued indictments in the cases that had been either reversed by a state appeals court or dismissed by state prosecutors, the department said in a news release. The reversals and dismissals were based on the McGirt decision, that found Oklahoma lacks jurisdiction for crimes committed on tribal reservations in which the defendants or victims were tribal citizens.

Those charged include Devin Sizemore, 26, whose conviction and life sentence for the drowning death of his 21-month-old daughter was overturned April 1.

State appellate court rulings overturning criminal convictions based on McGirt have led to a dramatic increase in workload for federal prosecutors who must retry the cases in federal court.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, on Tuesday introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would allow the Chickasaw and Cherokee nations compact with the state on criminal jurisdiction.


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