Charges against Tulsa father whose children died in hot car dismissed after Supreme Court ruling


UPDATE (KJRH/KFOR) – Charges against a man whose two children died in a locked vehicle were dismissed Monday after the Supreme Court ruling last week.

Officials with the district attorney’s office said the charges were dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General’s office said since it is a major crime, it should go to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The children were members of the Cherokee Nation and this is the first case after the Supreme Court’s tribal ruling.

On July 9, the Supreme Court ruled that much of eastern Oklahoma, including a large chunk of Tulsa, is still tribal land. It’s a ruling that has a big impact on the state’s criminal justice system.

Original story

“For anybody that has an Indian card, a CDIB card, a certified degree of Indian blood,” Native American law attorney Robert Gifford told KFOR. “If they are within the Creek Nation, the state of Oklahoma had no jurisdiction over them.”

TULSA, Okla. (KJRH/KFOR) – A father previously released on bond after his children died in a hot truck last month is once again facing murder charges.

On June 13, Dustin Lee Dennis was originally booked into the Tulsa County Jail for the deaths of his three-year-old son Ryan and four-year-old daughter Tegan. At the time, he was booked on a $1 million bond for two complaints of second-degree murder.

According to KJRH, Dennis told police he went to QuikTrip with his children and returned home for a nap.

About four to five hours later when he woke up, he found the children dead inside of his truck.

He carried the children to the living room and then called police.

The Tulsa district attorney’s office says video from a neighbor’s home shows the children getting into the truck by themselves.

Dennis was then released on a personal recognizance bond.

The DA issued the following statement on June 15:

Today Investigators with the Tulsa Police Department brought to the attention of the District Attorney’s Office additional information they were able to develop in the matter of the deaths of Tegan and Ryan Dennis. Detectives within the Child Crisis Unit were concerned about conflicting information as it related to the initially reported facts. Video surveillance footage from a neighbor’s home confirmed that the children managed to get into the truck and tragically never got out. Based upon that newly discovered evidence the detectives immediately reported it to our office. We then presented that information to the judge who initially set bond. Mr. Dennis was authorized for release on a personal recognizance bond.

No formal charges have been filed in this case. It is always important to note that our Constitution guarantees the presumption of innocence for any person accused of or arrested for a crime. That presumption of innocence remains until and unless a judge or jury determines otherwise.

However, according to online court records, Dustin Dennis has now been formally charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

KJRH reports Dennis is being held on a $1 million bond in the Tulsa County Jail.

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