Oklahoma AG says he will fight inmates’ attempts at release

August 4, 2020 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s attorney general said he will fight any challenges by inmates to gain freedom after the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal cases against American Indian defendants in parts of the state that includes mostly Tulsa.

The high court’s decision involved Jimcy McGirt, 71, who is serving a 500-year prison sentence for molesting a child. The court ruled that McGirt shouldn’t have been tried in state court because he is an American Indian and the crime was committed on Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation. He could potentially be retried in federal court.

“The McGirt case does not constitute a get-out-of-prison-free card,” Attorney General Mike Hunter said at a news conference Monday.

Creek Nation Principal Chief David Hill said Monday: “We wholeheartedly support a rigorous process. The Supreme Court decision is all about fixing what was broken in the past to build a better system, not giving criminals a free pass. The simple reality is that today, as before, if you call the police they will come. If you commit a crime, you’ll be brought to justice.”

Hunter’s office is now involved in death row inmate Shaun Michael Bosse’s case in which his attorneys want him to be tried in federal court because the family he killed were citizens of the Chickasaw Nation and the crime was committed on the Chickasaw reservation. Bosse, who is not American Indian, was convicted in 2012 for killing Katrina Griffin and her two young children.

“Given these factors, the state of Oklahoma had no jurisdiction to charge, try, convict or sentence Mr. Bosse for the crimes in this case,” the attorneys argued in a brief filed last month with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

Hunter said his office would use the Bosse case to seek guidance from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on how to handle hundreds of similar arguments from inmates.

Hunter’s office has estimated that nearly 2,000 inmates could try to have their convictions overturned.

Shannon James Kepler, a member of Creek Nation, is currently serving a 15-year sentence for the 2014 killing of his estranged daughter’s boyfriend, the Tulsa World reported. The 60-year-old was convicted three years ago for the death of Jeremey Lake, 19. He is appealing his case after the high court’s McGirt decision.