OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Following a decision by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is asking the court to rehear the state’s case against a man who was convicted of a triple murder.
Officials say it stems from the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision last summer.
On July 9, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Muscogee (Creek) reservation was never disestablished.
It’s a ruling that has a big impact on the state’s criminal justice system.
“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.”
As it stands, these decisions alter the State’s legal jurisdiction and law enforcement capabilities on a significant portion of eastern Oklahoma, creating uncertainty for many Oklahomans.
“In general, the McGirt decision by the United States Supreme Court has created a significant amount of confusion, especially in regards to inmates who are serving time in state custody for crimes committed on historic tribal lands,” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said in August.
After the Supreme Court’s decision, Hunter said his office was flooded with appeals, which he said he would oppose.
“The McGirt case does not constitute a get out of prison free card,” Hunter said. “We are not going to allow our justice system to be exploited by individuals who have murdered, raped, or committed another crime of a serious nature while the federal government considers whether to rearrest or adjudicate their cases.”
Specifically, one filing was in regards to the case involving Shaun Bosse, a man convicted of murdering his girlfriend and her two children.
In 2012, Shaun Bosse was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, 25-year-old Katrina Griffin, and her two young children; 8-year-old Christian Griffin and 6-year-old Chasity Hammer.
In 2010, authorities discovered the bodies of the family in a burned out mobile home near Dibble.
After being convicted of their murders, Bosse was sentenced to death, 35 years for arson and was fined $25,000.
Bosse’s attorneys argued that even though Bosse isn’t a tribal citizen, the victims were Native American and the crime occurred on Chickasaw lands. As a result, they argued the state didn’t have the authority to prosecute him.
“We take the position that the state has a right and a responsibility to protect Indian citizens from those who murder, like Mr. Bosse,” Hunter said.
Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the judgement and sentence of Bosse, saying the state did not have jurisdiction to prosecute him since the historical boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation Reservation were never disestablished.
The decision is particularly frustrating to Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn, whose office prosecuted Bosse.
“He’s benefiting from the people he killed,” Mashburn said. “It would be a travesty of justice if he got anything less than death.”
State leaders say the result of this decision is that crimes involving tribal members in the 27 counties that are wholly or partially within these reservations will now be prosecuted by federal or tribal authorities.
On Wednesday, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter filed a motion requesting the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to rehear the state’s case against Bosse.
“This is about fighting to ensure justice for victims of not only the brutal crimes committed by Shaun Bosse, but also those being revictimized by fallout from the McGirt ruling,” Attorney General Hunter said. “We continue to believe the state has jurisdiction over non-Native Americans on tribal reservation lands, even if the federal government also has jurisdiction. Exclusive federal jurisdiction only applies to Native Americans.”
In the petition, Hunter says a rehearing is warranted because the court overlooked arguments and authority offered by the state. He argues the court reached a conclusion that conflicts with the state’s post-conviction statutes.
“We also believe that prisoners who were convicted long ago and have sat on their claims for years cannot suddenly raise them today under Oklahoma law. Not only will this re-traumatize victims and their families, it creates the possibility these offenders will go free because the federal statutes of limitations have expired, or retrials are compromised because of issues with witnesses and evidence over a long period of time. The ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeals ignores statutory language surrounding criminal appeals, which is why we are asking the court for a rehearing,” Hunter said.
The attorney general is also asking the Court of Criminal Appeals to stay the ruling for rehearing.