The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

June 17, 2013

Oklahoma weighing options in murder case

TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office said Monday it's weighing its options after a federal appeals court ruled the state doesn't have jurisdiction over a death row case in which a man pleaded guilty to killing three people in Indian Country.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voided David Magnan's convictions Friday and ordered him released from state custody, but a three-judge panel said they presumed that federal authorities would arrest and prosecute him "given the nature of the crimes and Magnan's admitted guilt."

Magnan, 50, pleaded guilty in Seminole County District Court to three counts of first-degree murder and one count of shooting with intent to kill in a March 3, 2004, shooting in which three died and a fourth was injured. He was sentenced to death on each murder count and received a life sentence on the remaining count. All of the victims except one were members of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.

Magnan, a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, appealed, claiming that the crimes occurred on Indian land therefore Oklahoma could not prosecute him.

Agency spokeswoman Diane Clay said Monday the state has three options: Petition the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court for a rehearing, take the matter directly to the U.S. Supreme Court or decline to take action, likely allowing federal authorities to take over the case.

"We have a certain amount of time depending on which decision is made," Clay said Monday. "We're reviewing the opinion and discussing our options for the state."

Oklahoma has about two weeks to make an appeal to the 10th Circuit. It has three months to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

Magnan will remain in custody pending the outcome, state officials said.

Mark Green, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, said Monday his office is waiting for the state to decide how to handle the case before possibly intervening.

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