First-degree murder charges against two brothers charged with the slaying of Pawhuskan Rick Holt were continued Thursday in Osage County District Court after federal attorney’s declined to take over prosecution of the 1 1/2-year-old case.
Jeremy Reece, 32, and Tyler Reece, 20, also are charged with kidnapping and conspiracy in connection with the September 2015 death of Holt, a 46-year-old oilfield operator and former two-time state wrestling champion of the PHS Huskies.
The brothers are accused of attacking Holt at his rural residence a few miles south of town before taking him to a remote oil lease approximately 10 miles away. Holt’s charred, bullet-riddled body was found buried in a shallow grave about a week after he disappeared over the Labor Day Holiday Weekend.
The case’s original Osage County murder charges were dismissed more than a year ago. Jurisdictional issues related to the brothers’ Native American heritage (both are enrolled members of the Muscogee/Creek Nation) and the possibility that the alleged crimes took place on federally-restricted land.
Officials with the U.S Attorney’s Office in Tulsa decided not to pursue federal murder charges in the case, reportedly due to “a lack of definitive proof” that the injuries which caused Holt’s death were inflicted on Indian land.
Osage County prosecutors had previously stipulated that the homicide occurred on restricted oil lease property northwest of Hominy.
The Reeces were taken into custody before Holt’s body was located and recovered. Both have been held, without bond, ever since.
On Thursday, Osage County Special Judge Stuart Tate granted the local state prosecutors additional time to file a supplemental brief on defense motions asking that the murder chargesbe dismissed due to a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
Over the objections of attorneys representing the Reeces, District Attorney Rex Duncan’s office was given until April 21 to submit the brief on the defendants’ jurisdictional challenge. Lawyers for the defendant’s will then have until May 5 to respond to the prosecutors’ points. A court ruling on the motions for dismissal would follow.
Another status conference in the case is scheduled before Tate at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 13.
Delays by the Tulsa prosecutor’s office in reviewing the case were probably compounded by issues that recently resulted in the resignation of U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams.