Prosecutors have filed murder charges in unrelated cases against three individuals in Tulsa federal court, all as a result of a recent landmark Supreme Court ruling dealing with criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country.
The three cases represent as many murder filings as Tulsa federal prosecutors have logged in the Northern District of Oklahoma in the past 20 years, according to a Tulsa World search of past cases.
All three of the recently filed cases are the result of a July 9 Supreme Court ruling that determined that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation historical reservation was never disestablished by Congress, meaning that since statehood major crime cases involving American Indians filed in state court that occurred in Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation boundaries should have been filed in federal court. The reservation includes much of the city of Tulsa, including all of south Tulsa County and all or portions of 10 other counties.
Despite the few murder filings in Tulsa federal court, several assistant U.S. attorneys there have other experience with homicide cases in state and other federal courts, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Tulsa said.
Federal prosecutors in Tulsa also have handled other violent criminal cases, too, said Lennea Montandon, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tulsa.
For local state prosecutors, the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Jimcy McGirt has meant reviewing criminal cases for potential dismissal so they can be filed in federal court.
That’s what happened in the cases of Lance Dylan Gatzman, 22, and Anthony Drake Ahaisee, 30.
Both were originally charged with first-degree murder in Tulsa County District Court.
A criminal complaint filed Thursday in Tulsa federal court accuses Gatzman in connection with the Oct. 24 stabbing death of Christian Isaiah Jones, 21.
Gatzman allegedly told investigators that Jones had stolen his bike the day prior.
Jones was killed in the 1000 block of East Third Street, near Youth Services of Tulsa in what is now considered by the McGirt ruling to be Indian Country for purposes of federal enforcement of major crimes.
The case became a federal crime because Gatzman is reportedly an enrolled member of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation. He is being held on a complaint but has not been officially charged or indicted publicly.
The second 2019 murder case is related to the March 28, 2019, stabbing death of Gregory Collins, 24.
Prosecutors alleged in a criminal complaint filed Monday that Anthony Drake Ahaisse, a member of the Seminole Nation, stabbed Collins at a residence in the 4800 block of South Elwood Avenue. Ahaisse is also being held on a complaint and has not been officially charged or publicly indicted.
The third murder case was filed in federal court one day after the McGirt ruling.
In that case, prosecutors alleged James Michael Landry, 29, fatally shot his girlfriend at Philpott Park, 1114 W. 37th Place.
Crystal Bradley, 45, was a member of the Cherokee Nation, according to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI.
Prior to the McGirt ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma had seen three murder cases since 2000, records show.
In one case, Jeremy Keith Reece awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the 2015 Osage County killing of Rick Holt, 46. The case is being prosecuted by federal officials after investigators determined the crime occurred on land owned by the Osage Nation.
Two other most recent murder prosecutions in Tulsa federal court prior to the McGirt ruling occurred in 2011 and 2015.
In one of those cases, federal prosecutors ended up dismissing murder charges against Thomas Mongrain Eaves after a judge determined his arrest by investigators was illegal. Misdemeanor charges were subsequently filed in Osage Nation tribal court.
In 2011, federal prosecutors charged Steven Thompson Keeling with murder in Indian Country. Keeling pleaded guilty to second degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting death of Edward W. “Butch” Brown on a restricted Indian allotment in south Tulsa County, according to Tulsa World archives.
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