OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A state appeals court on Thursday upheld the conviction and death penalty of a man on death row, ruling that the southwestern Oklahoma territory where the murders were committed was not an Indian country because the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reservation located there was officially dissolved by Congress.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeal upheld the murder conviction and death sentence of Mica Martinez, 41, for the October 2009 murder of Carl Miller, 64, and Martha Miller, 55, at their home in Cache, Comanche County.
Martinez had argued that the state of Oklahoma did not have jurisdiction in this case because he is a member of the Comanche tribe and the killings took place within the boundaries of the existing Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reservation. in southwestern Oklahoma.
The issue of state jurisdiction over tribal lands led to a landmark United States Supreme Court ruling known as the McGirt ruling, that the Muscogee Nation Reservation in northeastern l ‘Oklahoma has never been canceled by Congress. Since then, lower courts have found that the reservations of five other Native American tribes were also never removed, including the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, and Quapaw.
But in Martinez’s case, the Comanche County District Court held a hearing specific to the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reservation and determined that the reserve had been formally dissolved by Congress in the early 1900s.
“In cases well before McGirt, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and this Court had found that the 1900 Act removed the Kiowa Comanche Apache reservation, citing language confirming the surrender, transfer, transfer, abandonment and surrender of all tribal tribes. claims over their reserve lands, âthe Oklahoma Court of Appeals wrote in its opinion.
Messages left with Martinez’s public defender and a Comanche nation lawyer on Thursday were not immediately returned.
The appeals court ruled that even if the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reserve had not been dissolved, Martinez would not have obtained relief under McGirt because the court determined the ruling would not apply retroactively to overturning convictions that were already final when the McGirt case was decided.
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