A Pittsburg County defense team is challenging the state’s jurisdiction to prosecute a case involving a Native American victim following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Court documents allege 40-year-old Bart Jameson was fatally shot and killed in January 2019 by Brenda Savage, 56, of Del Valle, Texas, at a McAlester residence.
Savage was charged with first-degree murder by the District 18 District Attorney’s Office and was released from the Pittsburg County Jail after posting a $100,000 bond through a bondswoman, according to court documents.
A motion to dismiss the charge against Savage was filed Thursday by attorneys representing Savage, citing the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that found Congress never “disestablished” the reservation status of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and overturned state convictions of two men, Jimcy McGirt and Patrick Murphy, who both challenged their state convictions to the Court.
The motion states Jameson was a member of the Choctaw Nation and that the alleged crime against a tribal member was committed in Pittsburg County, located within the boundaries of the Choctaw Nation “and subject to all treaties between” the tribe and the federal government “that any crimes” committed against the Jameson “shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States.”
Savage’s attorney’s, Brecken Wagner and Blake Lynch, state in the motion “that it is fully expected that the State of Oklahoma has no objection to this motion to dismiss.”
In a brief of support that supplemented the motion, the attorneys wrote that the 1883 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek between the U.S. Government and the Choctaws that the reservation in eastern Oklahoma “would remain Choctaw as long as the rivers flowed and grass grows” and that nothing to date has extinguished the treaty.
“The state has presented no evidence that contemporaries consider the Choctaw Nation should be extinguished at the time statutes were enacted,” the attorneys wrote in the brief. “If there is no evidence that at the time of enactment that the intent was diminish the reservation than there can be no analysis that the reservation has been diminished.”
The attorneys wrote that there is a strong possibility that the state, the tribe, and the U.S. Government will “pass a law in the coming days” seeking the change of Indian County and/or state jurisdiction and that if it is applied to Savage “it would be an illegal Ex Post Facto Law” and that any changes made “should have no bearing on this proceeding” due to a clause in the U.S. Constitution banning Congress from making such laws.
“The only issue before the court is whether at the time the crime was committed” was it a case that Oklahoma has jurisdiction to prosecute, the motion states.
Court records show a hearing on the motion was not scheduled as of press time Wednesday.
Contact Derrick James at [email protected]