PAWHUSKA, Okla. (AP) — A jurisdiction dispute about who can prosecute two brothers accused of killing an Oklahoma rancher has delayed their trial.
The Osage County prosecutors' case against Jeremy and Tyler Reece was dismissed for the second time Friday because the U.S. Attorney still has jurisdiction in the case, the Tulsa World reported.
The prosecution is appealing the ruling. Mayes County Judge Terry McBride will decide Friday if the state has the authority to pursue felony murder charges.
The jurisdiction issue surfaced in March 2016 when Osage County District Judge Stuart Tate ruled exclusive federal jurisdiction in the case, citing the Major Crimes Act and Indian Crimes Assimilation Act. But the U.S. Attorney's office decided not to try the case in 2016.
"We made an independent decision based upon what we know to be federal law. Whatever the state judge decided, we are not a party to," said U.S. Attorney Loretta Radford.
The brothers have been charged in the 2015 kidnapping and fatal shooting of 46-year-old Rick Holt. Holt's body was found burned with multiple shotgun wounds in a shallow grave on Osage tribal land near Hominy in September 2015.
They may go to tribal court because Holt's body was discovered on tribal land and because the brothers are members of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation.
But they might not receive additional jail time because the maximum sentence for murder in tribal court is one year, and they'd likely receive credit for the two years they've already served.
Jail records show the brothers remain in Osage County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond on the Osage Nation charges.