The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday issued a series of rulings ordering the dismissal of multiple cases at the state level based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision that said Oklahoma lacked jurisdiction to handle them.
Among the cases dismissed was that of 28-year-old Arnold Dean Howell, whom Tulsa federal prosecutors announced Thursday afternoon faces a complaint of first-degree murder in Indian Country. A news release from Tulsa-based acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson states Howell is an enrolled tribal member and is accused of a crime within the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s jurisdiction.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is expected to present the charge to a federal grand jury within 30 days.
The appellate court also ordered two cases in Tulsa County dismissed: a child abuse case against Grant Jackson IV, as well as a first-degree murder case against Jordan Mitchell. Both were convicted in jury trials.
In three unpublished opinions, the judges did not remark on other legal claims raised in the appeals, citing them moot after finding Oklahoma lacked jurisdiction to pursue charges. Each decision will take legal effect in 20 days.
In McGirt v. Oklahoma, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Creek Nation was not disestablished for purposes of enforcement of the federal Major Crimes Act. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals said last week the precedent also applies to cases involving crimes within the boundaries of the Cherokee and Chickasaw nations.