Community , Legal

Reece brothers case postponed yet again

The preliminary hearing for two Osage County brothers accused of killing a Pawhuska oilman more than two years ago has been postponed yet again.

According to court records, the preliminary hearing for Jeremy and Tyler Reece has been moved back from March 6 to 10 a.m. on May 21 with a status hearing on April 17.

The decision to delay the hearing comes as the attorneys for the brothers have filed a motion to suppress evidence collected by the state while investigating the September 2015 death of Rick Holt.

According to the motion to suppress, the prosecution built its case on evidence and statements obtained in violation of the Reeces’ Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendments.

As per the state’s amended complaint, the Reece brothers broke into Holt’s house, kidnapped him, shot him in the neck and shoulders in his own yard, then drove him to restricted Osage land northwest of Hominy, where they shot him again, this time in the head.

After originally claiming that the kill shot was delivered on Indian land and out of its exclusive jurisdiction, Osage County prosecutors now maintain that the lethal blow was administered in Holt’s yard, thus giving the state the authority to charge the pair with murder.

In December, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals dissolved a stay and ruled that a preliminary hearing must be held to allow the Osage County prosecutors the opportunity to present their theory. 

The case has been in limbo for more than two years thanks to jurisdictional questions. The Reece brothers are citizens of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Holt’s body was found on Osage land, thus opening the door for proceedings in federal or tribal court under the Major Crimes Act.

In 2016, both Osage County Associate District Court Judge Stuart Tate and Mayes County District Judge Terry McBride dismissed state charges of first-degree murder and corpse desecration, saying they believed the fatal shot was delivered on restricted Indian land, thus taking the matter out of the state’s hands and placing it in the federal government’s.

However, to date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tulsa has passed on the case twice.

Under Oklahoma statute, each brother could receive up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $5,000 for conspiracy to commit murder if found guilty, plus up to 20 years’ imprisonment for kidnapping.

The Osage Nation filed first degree homicide charges in May 2016 to ensure the brothers remained in custody after the state of Oklahoma missed an appeal deadline.

If convicted in tribal court, the brothers could face up to one year in jail, a $5,000 fine and banishment from Osage lands for 20 years.