A Vinita man admitted his role Wednesday in the 2019 stabbing death of a man whose body was found near a rural Craig County road.
Dale Eugene Warren, 65, pleaded guilty in Tulsa federal court to one count of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder in Indian Country in the Aug. 18, 2019 murder of Christopher Boren, 28.
Boren’s body was found in rural Craig County, just north of the line with Mayes County. He had been stabbed more than 20 times.
Warren’s plea agreement includes a 10-year prison term. He previously faced first-degree murder charges, along with co-defendant Johnny Lee Arnold, 33.
“I helped him wash the truck,” Warren told the court, referring to Arnold, adding that he turned on a water hose so his co-defendant could wash away evidence, and he disposed of the murder weapon in a nearby river.
“Dale Warren witnessed another man commit first-degree murder and then assisted in discarding the murder weapon and disposing of other evidence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “His conduct was inexcusable. Today, he pled guilty and took responsibility for his criminal actions.”
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State charges against Warren and Arnold were dismissed in Craig County District Court after both raised jurisdictional challenges in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision.
Boren was a member of the Cherokee Nation, and his death occurred within the Cherokee Nation reservation, factors that exclude the state from prosecuting Warren and Arnold under the McGirt ruling and subsequent state appellate court rulings.
A federal grand jury on June 8 indicted both Warren and Arnold on first-degree murder in Indian Country.
During his plea hearing, Warren said Arnold first hit Boren in the head with a baseball bat before the pair drove away in a pickup truck, leaving Boren in a ditch.
Warren said he and Arnold returned to Boren shortly thereafter, claiming Arnold stabbed Boren in the stomach as soon as he exited the vehicle. Boren was unarmed, according to prosecutors.
Asked by Magistrate Judge Jodi Jayne if he ever notified the police regarding Boren’s death, Warren replied that he did not.
“I had to pick up my wife in Dallas,” said Warren, who used a cane and carted an oxygen cylinder in the courtroom. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 4, when a district judge will decide whether to accept the plea agreement with stipulated prison sentence.
First-degree murder charges against Arnold are pending with a trial scheduled for March 21 in Tulsa federal court.