OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt joined Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Wednesday night to talk McGirt and the tribes say some of what was said equates to disinformation.
The full interview can be viewed on Stitt’s YouTube page.
Throughout the conversation he makes several statements, one including death row inmates using DNA tests to prove they’re Native American, in hopes their cases will be tossed out by the state. All of this follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision, which said the state can’t prosecute crimes involving Native Americans on Indian land.
The governor referenced a case from 2018 involving an Oklahoma man facing murder charges at the time. He was not on death row at that point. However, he did try to use an at home DNA test to show he had Native American ancestry and couldn’t be tried by the state. It did not work.
“I mean, Tucker, we have…we have people on death row that are doing 23andMe DNA tests trying to get their convictions overturned,” Stitt said. “It’s preposterous.”
The case involved a man named Daniel Vasquez. He was charged with murdering a pregnant woman. Before his trial, his attorney said he was Native and the court at the time did not have jurisdiction, citing the 23andMe DNA test used by Vasquez. The attorney did not provide any more information to the court on specifics of what tribe he was affiliated with and so on. Again, he was not on death row at the time and was convicted of first-degree murder just last year. The governor’s office did not provide any more examples of cases in which this type of thing happened.
“It was shocking to hear that amount of disinformation,” said Choctaw Nation tribal prosecutor Kara Bacon.
Bacon said more goes into tribal citizenship than an at home DNA test, although it does depend on the tribe.
“We use the 10th Circuit test which requires some degree of Indian blood and recognition from a federally recognized tribe of membership,” she said.
The governor’s office sent KFOR a statement saying that “the situation on the ground has gotten so absurd that convicted murderers are trying to use the McGirt ruling as their get out of jail free card.”
“The state, if there’s an Indian involved, has lost jurisdiction to prosecute those crimes. Our police have lost jurisdiction,” Stitt said.
Tribal officials say that isn’t necessarily true.
“We have a lot of cross deputies in agreement,” Bacon said. “So, when he said trouble or when he said local law enforcement can’t respond anymore, that’s actually not a fact. In fact, we work with about 85 agents or 75 agencies within our reservation that are constantly sending us charges that we’re in communication with daily that they show up in our courts and testify.”
Again, tribes do not use 23 and Me or other at home DNA tests as proof for tribal membership. Department of Corrections officials said this DNA test was obviously done outside of their custody of Vasquez.
A tweet by The Cherokee Nation reads:
“#ThankfulThursday: As a tribe of 410,402 citizens, we’re thankful for the 410,401 Cherokee citizens who aren’t going on TV to undermine our rights and sovereignty.”
The Governor’s Communication’s Director Carly Atchison tweeted this reply
“402,469 of whom didn’t vote for Chuck Hoskin, Jr. #ThankfulThursday“