In this photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Patrick Dwyane Murphy is pictured in a photo in McAlester, Okla., dated July 8, 2004. Murphy, a 49-year-old member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation on death row, had his conviction and death sentence tossed by a federal appeals court.(Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP)

Fears in Oklahoma over ruling in tribal sovereignty case

July 28, 2018 - 10:48 am

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Legal experts say a federal appeals court ruling that overturned a condemned Native American man's murder conviction in Oklahoma on jurisdictional grounds could radically change how tribal members are prosecuted in a massive area that was assigned to tribes before Oklahoma became a state, including most of Tulsa.

State and federal officials warn that if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds last year's ruling overturning Patrick Murphy's first-degree murder conviction for the 1999 killing of George Jacobs, it will lead to a flood of appeals from other Native American inmates in Oklahoma and could affect other things such as tax collection and property rights.

The appeals court ruled that because the crime occurred on land assigned to Murphy's Muscogee (Creek) Nation tribe, his case should have gone through federal court instead of state court because Congress never formally disestablished the tribal borders even though the land long ago stopped serving as a reservation.

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