Governor Stitt Applauds Supreme Court Decision to Address McGirt Fallout
Governor Kevin Stitt released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the state’s case to address the fallout of McGirt and allow Oklahoma to retain criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in eastern Oklahoma:
“I am encouraged that the Supreme Court has decided to address whether a state has authority to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians in Indian Country. The fallout of the McGirt decision has been destructive. Criminals have used this decision to commit crimes without punishment. Victims of crime, especially Native victims, have suffered by being forced to relive their worst nightmare in a second trial or having justice elude them completely.
“The reality is that the McGirt decision has hamstrung law enforcement in half of the state. Oklahoma is a law and order state, and I was elected to protect all four million Oklahomans, regardless of their race or heritage. I will not stop fighting to ensure we have one set of rules to guarantee justice and equal protection under the law for all citizens.”
BACKGROUND ON OKLAHOMA’S PETITION FOR CERTIORARI:
On September 17, the State of Oklahoma filed a petition for certiorari in the case of child abuser Victor Manuel Castro-Huerta, asking the Court to reconsider the McGirt decision or to permit the State to prosecute criminals like Castro-Huerta, who is a non-Indian that victimized an Indian.
The criminal at issue in this case, Castro-Huerta, was convicted in state court and sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, but the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals threw out that conviction because of its interpretation of the McGirt decision.
In 2015, Castro-Huerta so severely neglected his five-year-old stepdaughter, who has cerebral palsy and is legally blind, that she was rushed to the emergency room. She was admitted in critical condition, dehydrated, emaciated, and covered in lice and excrement, and she weighed only nineteen pounds. Investigators who visited Castro-Huerta’s home later discovered that her crib was filled with bedbugs and cockroaches and contained a single, dry sippy cup, the top of which was chewed through.
Castro-Huerta later admitted to officers that, while he knew his step-daughter required five bottles of baby formula a day, he had provided her between only twelve and eighteen bottles the previous month. Castro-Huerta is not a Native American, but his step-daughter victim is a member of a tribe headquartered in North Carolina.