SCOTUS Requests Review Of Tulsa Murder Case, Potential Expansion Of McGirt

Wednesday, October 7th 2020, 6:18 pm

A Tulsa murder case could pave the way for more Oklahoma tribes to fall under the July Supreme Court decision on McGirt v. Oklahoma.

The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the conviction of Garry Wayne Wilson, who said he is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and ordered the case back to the state in light of the McGirt ruling on tribal jurisdiction.

This week, the Supreme Court looked at this question by Oklahoma inmate Wilson: whether Oklahoma had jurisdiction to convict someone of murder within the historic boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

Wilson was convicted and given a life sentence in 2017 for murder and possession of a firearm. He claims he is a Cherokee citizen and since the case happened on Cherokee land, his case falls under federal or tribal jurisdiction.

"There are individuals who are attempting to argue that the McGirt case applies to them and that their conviction needs to be officiated and set aside," Oklahoma's Attorney General Mike Hunter, "and so we're involved with the DAs and most of the state with regards to these cases and we're doing our best."

The McGirt decision applied specifically to the Muscogee Creek Nation. Attorney General Hunter said the state does not have a position on the Cherokee Nation having reservation standing but said it's likely to happen because the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is now reviewing many cases involving other tribes.

Hunter said if other tribes do follow the Muscogee Creek Nation, it's going to take teamwork to maintain justice.

"We are working very hard with the tribes and U.S. Attorneys to ensure that the McGirt case is not a get-out-of-prison-free card," Attorney General Hunter said. 

The Cherokee Nation's Attorney General, Sara Hill, also sent News on 6 the following statement: 

“The Cherokee Nation Attorney General’s office is currently monitoring more than a hundred cases before the Oklahoma Court of Appeals in which defendants are asking that their cases be dismissed by the state due to the McGirt decision. It’s why the Cherokee Nation launched a Sovereignty Commission which is making recommendations for expansion of our tribal court and criminal justice system so that any cases dismissed by the state are prosecuted in tribal or federal courts and justice is served.” 

To read the full opinion from the Supreme Court, visit the website here.

To read the decision from the Supreme Court, visit this website.