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Man serving life without parole in child's 2014 death charged in federal court
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Man serving life without parole in child's 2014 death charged in federal court

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A man serving life without parole after pleading guilty in the 2014 death of a 5-year-old boy in Tulsa has been indicted by a federal grand jury in what appears to be another case affected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision.

The grand jury named Steven Lewis Clement, 41, in a two-count indictment unsealed this week that alleges first-degree felony murder and arson in Indian Country.

The indictment alleges that Clement killed Mikael Cabral, 5, when he set fire to a home in the 4000 block of East 28th Street on Sept. 16, 2014.

The indictment comes after Clement challenged his state convictions in December on the basis of the McGirt ruling.

The landmark ruling determined that since Congress had never disestablished the Muscogee Nation reservation, the state of Oklahoma did not have jurisdiction to try major crimes involving American Indians there.

The Muscogee Nation includes much of Tulsa.

In his appeal, Clement indicated that he has been a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation since 1997 and that the crimes occurred within the Muscogee Nation reservation.

Clement has spent the last five-plus years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder while committing arson and endangering human life while committing arson. He received concurrent sentences of life without parole and life in prison.

Clement was living with his girlfriend and four children at her home near 31st Street and Yale Avenue when it caught fire just after midnight.

Clement’s girlfriend testified that she was driving back to Tulsa from Wichita, Kansas, when she received calls and text messages from Clement, who was threatening to burn down the home.

Mikael’s three surviving siblings testified that they got out of the home after smelling smoke.

Outside, they said, they saw Clement, who made no efforts to help them or their youngest brother escape the fire.

While Clement admitted to using a cigarette to ignite a mattress in the garage of the home, prosecutors said he also left a door open between the garage and the rest of the house and used gasoline to help the fire spread.

Firefighters rescued Mikael from the fire, but the 5-year-old died four days after lapsing into a coma, according to Tulsa World archives.

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