Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Death penalty case poses test for tribal sovereignty

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take a death penalty case that could significantly change the legal definition of Indian Country in Oklahoma.

In 2000, Patrick Murphy, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, was convicted for murdering his girlfriend’s ex-husband, also a Creek Nation member, and leaving his mutilated body on the side of a road in McIntosh County, Oklahoma. The murder itself has little to do with why this case is important to tribes. Murphy’s public defenders lost in a lower court, but successfully argued to have the case tried in federal court, because the crime took place within the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s tribal district and was between two tribal members.


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