State files application to appeal judge’s dismissal of state murder charges
Team Radio Marketing Group - June 5, 2017 11:50 am
Jeremy and Tyler Reece
The Bigheart Times, a weekly newspaper based out of Barnsdall, Okla., reported Monday that the State of Oklahoma has filed an application to appeal a ruling by a judge who dismissed the state murder charges against Jeremy and Tyler Reece in the 2015 death of Pawhuska pumper Rick Holt.
On its Facebook page, The Bigheart Times reports:
The issue has been argued exhaustively, but late Friday afternoon Special Judge Stuart Tate affirmed his past ruling that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction to prosecute the murder case because the District Attorney’s Office agreed that Holt was killed on Indian land and that the Reece brothers are enrolled members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. That means the crime falls under the federal Indian Major Crimes Act.
Tate first ruled that the Feds had exclusive jurisdiction in March 2016 and his decision was upheld by Presiding Judge Terry McBride. The DA’s office appealed to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals but the appeal was bungled and withdrawn.
The DA then filed an amended charge of felony murder committed in the course of a burglary at Holt’s house, but did not file a probable cause affidavit in support thereof, Tate noted. He also noted that the amended charges against the Reeces omitted the charge of desecration of a corpse (Holt was shot, then burned and buried).
Tate ruled that the state cannot re-litigate the jurisdictional question because the earlier decision was made final due to the DA withdrawing the appeal to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in June of last year.
“(T)he court finds the lack of jurisdiction regarding the murder of Rick Holt is the law of the case and may not be re-litigated,” Tate wrote.
The ruling is sure to be appealed but once again casts the future of the case into doubt.
Acting U.S. Attorney Loretta Radford has declined to prosecute the case, saying there is insufficient evidence that Holt was killed on Indian land — although numerous affidavits say that Jeremy Reece said it occurred on Indian land owned by the Osage Nation and Karen Redeagle southwest of Wynona, that he led investigators to Holt’s body, that shotgun shells and wadding were found near Holt’s body, and that there was no sign of struggle at Holt’s home near Wynona, from which he was allegedly abducted early September 5, 2015.
Recently, investigators learned that one of the guns recovered from a stream near Holt’s remains belonged to Holt, suggesting not only that the brothers broke into Holt’s home but that he was killed with his own weapon.
The Reeces will continue to face kidnapping and felony conspiracy charges in state court. The brothers remain in jail with no bond allowed.