Mendees Schardein

A federal arrest warrant was issued for a McAlester couple accused of child abuse prior to the expected dismissal of their state charges Friday.

A hearing on an order to dismiss several state charges against Ashley Dawn Marie Schardein, 25, and Billy James Menees, 28, is scheduled for Friday afternoon in District 18 Special District Judge Brian McLaughlin’s courtroom.

The couple were each charged in May 2020 with several counts related to the alleged child abuse and torture of a 10-year-old girl, according to documents filed at the Pittsburg County Courthouse.

Due to a recent decision by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals applying the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma to the Choctaw Nation, the state of Oklahoma does not have criminal jurisdiction over the couple due to the alleged crimes were committed against a Native American.

Although Schardein and Menees are not Native American, the ruling means the case falls under federal jurisdiction as per the 1885 Major Crimes Act, which gives the federal government exclusive prosecutorial power in cases involving Native Americans defendants and victims within tribal lands, such as the Choctaw Nation.

Court records show the two are accused of torturing the 10-year-old girl “by excessively punishing with emotional and verbal abuse, physical abuse, including spanking, tying her hands and feet for long periods of time, shaving her head, not allowing her to use the restroom, forcing her to sleep on a concrete floor with no pillow, no blanket and intentionally keeping it cold in the room, restricting her diet to oatmeal, spinach and water, and/or forcing her to stand up for painfully long periods of time during the day sometimes in wet clothing under a cold fan.”

Other charges filed against Schardein and Menees included kidnapping and alleged instances of striking the 10-year-old girl with a large wooden paddle, wooden spoon, a sock stuffed with a bar of soap, a belt, and smashing the child’s head into a wall, documents state.

Schardein is also accused in Pittsburg County District Court of hitting a 4-year-old in the back of the head and grabbing the child's arm, while Menees is charged with “willfully permitting and allowing” the abuse of the 4-year-old, according to documents.

District 18 District Attorney Chuck Sullivan said state charges regarding the 4-year-old child will not be dismissed against the two.

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com

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