Two men serving life without parole for unrelated killings and another man charged in the death of his uncle face murder complaints in Tulsa federal court in anticipation that their state cases will be dropped or overturned.
Kevin Tyler Foster, 35, and Arnold Dean Howell, 28, have both been charged with first-degree murder in Indian Country after they challenged the state’s jurisdiction.
Douglas Lee Dixon, 39, is also charged with first-degree murder in Indian Country. Dixon has been facing a state murder charge in Craig County.
The three are among the hundreds of state cases being transferred to federal court after the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling and subsequent state court decisions determined that Oklahoma courts didn’t have the jurisdiction to prosecute them.
Foster, a member of the Seminole Nation, has been serving a life without parole prison sentence in the 2018 killing of his stepfather, Rick Swan, 60.
Officials named Foster in a first-degree murder complaint filed Tuesday in Tulsa federal court after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals days earlier ruled that the Cherokee and Chickasaw reservations had not been dissolved since granted by treaty in the 1860s.
Foster’s case qualified under McGirt for dismissal of his state case because the death occurred in the Rogers County portion of the Cherokee Nation reservation.
Firefighters found Swan’s burned body Nov. 15, 2018, inside a camper trailer after extinguishing a fire in the trailer and in a barn in which it had been parked on Swan’s property east of Claremore.
A medical examiner determined that he had been shot multiple times, according to court records.
The two men were both due in court on the day of the fire concerning money in the estate of Swan’s wife — Foster’s mother — after her death in October 2016, according to court records.
A jury found Foster guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree arson, desecration of a human corpse and possession of a firearm after a felony conviction following a November 2019 trial in Rogers County District Court.
A judge later agreed with the jury’s recommendation that Foster serve a no-parole life sentence along with 52 additional years for the other charges.
Howell, meanwhile, will be prosecuted in federal court after he challenged his Creek County conviction in the 2015 stabbing death of Michael Mondier Sr., 67.
An affidavit filed in support of Howell’s arrest claims that he and his sister, Katherine Elaine Freeman, went to Mondier’s rural Sapulpa home April 13, 2015, to rob him.
Howell is accused of stabbing Mondier multiple times, pausing only long enough to retrieve another knife after the first one broke, according to the affidavit. The pair allegedly stole Mondier’s vehicle, wallet, watch, two rifles and a laptop computer.
Howell’s state case qualified for dismissal because he is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the crime occurred within that tribe’s reservation.
In the Dixon case, an affidavit alleges that he shot his uncle in the head Feb. 20 at a Vinita residence. Dixon is a member of the Cherokee Nation.
Dixon initially claimed that Stanley W. Watkins accidentally shot himself. Under questioning by Vinita Police detectives, Dixon later admitted shooting his uncle, the affidavit says.
McGirt v. Oklahoma: Supreme Court decision and aftermath