Jurisdictional issue raised in Osage County murder case

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Jurisdictional challenges have been raised over Osage County charges filed in the slaying of Pawhuskan Rick Holt.

Local brothers Jeremy and Tyler Reece are charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and desecration of a human corpse in connection with the September homicide of Holt, a 46-year-old oil lease operator.

A motion filed recently on behalf of 31-year-old defendant Jeremy Reece challenges the state and county’s jurisdiction based on claims that the alleged crimes would have been committed in Indian Country and, therefore, the case should be prosecuted at the federal level.

Holt disappeared from his ranch home south of town early on Saturday morning, Sept. 5, just before Labor Day. His body was found a few days later buried in a secluded grave northwest of Hominy. According to law enforcement affidavits filed in the case, investigating officers had first gone to the body-recovery area while accompanied by the older of the Reece brothers.

During a Nov. 30 status hearing, both brothers appeared at the Osage County Courthouse before Special Judge Stuart Tate. The motion to dismiss the charges for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction was filed by attorneys with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense Service, the public agency appointed to defend both of the Reeces.

The motion — written by Peter Astor, an OIDS attorney who specializes in Native American issues — states that the restricted status of the land where the crimes allegedly occurred is only one of the Indian-related matters in the case. Astor also claims Jeremy Reece is entitled to federal prosecution because he is an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

Tyler Reece, who recently turned 19, asked Tate for time to consider whether to file a similar motion. He was given until Dec. 31 to do so.

The Osage County District Attorney’s Office, which received a copy of the motion just last week, asked the judge to allow it time to consult with a U.S. Attorney before being required to file a response to the motion. Tate ordered the state to submit its response to the motion by Jan. 8, 2016. A hearing date on the motion is scheduled at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26.