A district court judge in Pittsburg County is now the one who will decide what happens with the case against accused rapist Leroy Smith, who's a tribal citizen. Wednesday, the state tried to appeal a judge's decision last week to take Smith's case to a higher court.
On Wednesday, the judge did not decide on whether the state is taking Smith to trial. Instead, he said this decision is so impactful, he needs more time to decide.
This comes after last week's hearing in Muskogee, where a judge ruled to send the case to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
The state said Smith was not a tribal citizen at the time of his alleged crimes, so prosecutors said Smith should be tried by the state.
"The impact of the McGirt ruling is huge, so we are diving into it and seeing where it falls," said Muskogee County District Attorney Orville Loge.
But Smith's attorneys said Smith has been a tribal member since birth. They also argued the issue of "res judicata," which means a court cannot pursue a case that has already been ruled on. Loge said he feels confident in the state's argument.
"I feel good about the arguments that were made and the questions that the court asked were on point. I feel like he will review all of the law and the facts and make a decision on what to do," Loge said.
The judge also gave both sides time to submit more information and said he will decide before May 6.