The state of Oklahoma is asking for a stay in the proceedings of an appeal made by a McAlester teenager convicted of fatally shooting another teen in 2019.

Bryce Miller, 18, of McAlester, was found guilty of second-degree murder by imminently dangerous conduct in the 2019 shooting death of 16-year-old Jaylen Nelson by a Pittsburg County jury following a five-day trial in March 2020.

Miller was sentenced to serve 20 years in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Attorneys for Miller filed an appeal based on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals’ decision to apply the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma to the Choctaw Nation, stating that Miller’s case now 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.

OCCA ordered an evidentiary hearing in the matter and since both sides stipulated to the evidence regarding Nelson’s status as Native American, District 18 Associate District Judge Brendon Bridges ruled that Nelson was a member of the Choctaw Nation and the crime did occur within the historic boundaries of the Choctaw Nation.

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office is asking OCCA for a stay in further proceedings due to Miller’s case involves similar issues currently being litigated in Oklahoma v. Bosse.

In Bosse, the state is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether or not the state has concurrent jurisdiction over crimes committed by non-Native Americans against Native American victims, regardless of where the crime occurred.

Bosse, a non-Native American, was convicted and sentenced to death row in the 2010 killings of Katrina Griffin and her two young children, all Native American, on Chickasaw Nation lands. OCCA originally applied the McGirt analysis to the case before the Attorney General’s Office brought up the concurrent jurisdiction argument to the Supreme Court.

Court records show Bosse was federally charged for the crimes committed following OCCA’s decision.

‘’As the ongoing litigation in Bosse affects this instant case, this court should abate these proceedings immediately to conserve judicial resources,” the state wrote in its motion to OCCA.

Court records show the U.S. Supreme Court voted to stay OCCA’s mandate issued in Bosse to give the state time to file a petiton for a writ of certiorari.

“The state respectfully asks this court to abate petitioner’s direct appeal until the Supreme Court denies certiorari or rules on the merits in Bosse,” the state wrote in the motion.

Attorneys for Miller wrote in their motion that they expected the state to claim concurrent jurisdiction over Miller but stated that OCCA has already “soundly rejected” the state’s argument and to “do the same in his case.”

“This court must remand Mr. Miller’s case to the Pittsburg County District Court with instructions to vacate the judgement and sentence,” wrote Miller’s attorney.

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com

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