- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office plans to ask a federal appeals court to reconsider a ruling that determined a man convicted of murder in state court should have been tried in federal court in part because he’s Native American.

The office was granted more time Tuesday to file a rehearing petition in a lawsuit involving Patrick Dwayne Murphy, the Tulsa World reported . In its request for more time, the office argued the case was complex and has the potential to heavily affect the state’s authority in criminal, civil and regulatory matters.

Murphy was convicted and sentenced to death in state court for the 1999 killing of a man who was found dead in McIntosh County. But last week, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Murphy. The court ruled he should have been tried in federal court because he was Native American and the death occurred in “Indian country.”

The appellate court determined that the victim’s body was found within the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s boundaries, which span nearly a dozen Oklahoma counties and include much of the city of Tulsa. The court said the Creek Nation reservation, which existed before Oklahoma achieved statehood, had never been disestablished by Congress.

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office said the court’s ruling raises questions far beyond Murphy’s case.

“If this court’s opinion stands, other criminal defendants in Oklahoma (past, present and future) may argue that the state lacks jurisdiction to prosecute criminal cases over areas that are home to over a million Oklahoma citizens,” the office argued. “There also exists the potential for changes in the state’s civil and regulatory authority.”

The Creek Nation said the appeals court ruling affirms “the right of the Nation and all other Indian Nations to make and enforce their own laws within their own boundaries.”

The attorney general plans to request a rehearing before the entire Denver-based appeals court, office spokeswoman Terri Watkins said. The office has until Sept. 21 to file the rehearing petition.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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