Community , Legal

Court filing confirms federal investigation underway in Rick Holt murder case

The preliminary hearing for two brothers accused of killing a Pawhuska oilman has been rescheduled for a third time in an effort to give federal prosecutors more time to act.

On Nov. 16, Osage County District Judge Stuart Tate granted a joint motion to reset the preliminary hearing for Jeremy and Tyler Reece until 9 a.m. on Feb. 20, 2019.  The brothers were scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. on Nov. 26 in connection with the September 2015 death of Rick Holt, whose body was found on restricted Indian land northwest of Hominy with bullet wounds to the neck, shoulders and head.

According to the joint motion filed on Nov. 16, by Jeremy Reece’s attorney, Gretchen Mosely, and Rod Ramsey, Tyler Reece’s attorney, and co-signed by Osage County District Attorney Rex Duncan, multiple signs point to the U.S. Attorney’s Office assuming jurisdiction in the case.

Among the indicators listed in the motion are the assertions that both brothers have received letters that they are targets of a federal investigation, that Tyler Reece has already been formally interviewed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and that his testimony has been presented to a federal grand jury. Additionally, as per the motion, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has launched an independent investigation into the case and has begun obtaining warrants for information. 

“To proceed with preliminary hearing in State Court (sic) at this juncture is premature, a waste of State resources and potentially counterproductive given the activity in the case at the federal level,” Mosley and Ramsey wrote.  “The parties agree that the most prudent course is to permit the federal authorities proceed with indictments once their investigation is complete and to hold the State prosecution in abeyance in anticipation.”

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.

To date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has not filed charges in the case. The brothers waived their right to a speedy trial in April.

The state of Oklahoma’s authority in the proceeding hinges on where the kill shot was delivered, which remains a point of contention. Osage County prosecutors maintain that the lethal blow was administered in Holt’s yard, thus giving the state the authority to charge the pair with murder.

The brothers face one count each of first-degree murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder. Tyler Reece faces a fourth count of desecrating a corpse. 

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.