Holt murder case ruling expected March 29

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Two brothers charged with the murder of local oilman/rancher Rick Holt appeared in Osage County District Court last week to present evidence supporting a defense motion for dismissing the state’s case against them on jurisdictional grounds.

Jeremy Reece, 31, and 19-year-old Tyler Reece are accused of slaying Holt in September, apparently after he was kidnapped near his ranch-style residence a few miles south of Pawhuska. The motion for dismissal claims the case rightfully belongs in a federal court — rather than the state court — because both defendants are Native Americans and the alleged murder would have occurred on federally-restricted land in “Indian Country.”

Special Judge Stuart Tate took the arguments under advisement. He scheduled another court appearance by the brothers for March 29 — at which time is expected to rule on the motion.

Osage County prosecutors stipulated that the Reece brothers’ enrollment in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, but they are maintaining their position that the case should be heard in a state courtroom — since the crimes they are alleging did not originate on restricted land.

First Assistant District Attorney Mike Fisher admitted, however, that “a gray area” may exist, since there are few legal precedents regarding “Indian Country” land.

Crimes that are committed by or against Indians on Indian land are generally viewed as falling under federal jurisdiction, however, the defense attorneys said. Both brother’s testified at the hearing, but only Jeremy Reese presented exhibits regarding his Native American status.

Holt, 46, disappeared early on Saturday over Labor Day Weekend and local investigators were were contacted the following Tuesday. Jeremy Reece became a suspect due to incidents reported by his ex-wife, who reportedly had been romantically involved with Holt. Investigators claim the older brother directed them to the area where Holt’s body was located — which is several miles north and west of Hominy.

The victim was a former two-time state wrestling champion at Pawhuska High School. Tyler Reece, the co-salutatorian of the PHS Class of 2015, had enrolled in college at Edmond shortly before he was arrested for Holt’s murder.

The ruling on the motion was set two days before Ann Reece, the mother of the two defendants, is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on an accessory-after-the-fact charge that was filed during the initial investigation of the case.

Jeremy and Tyler Reece are charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping and desecration of human corpse.