A murder charge filed against a Texas woman accused of fatally shooting a McAlester man in 2019 was dismissed due to the man’s Native American status and lack of jurisdiction.
Brenda Burdue Savage, 57, of Del Valle, Texas, was charged in February 2019 with murder in the first degree for the shooting death of 40-year-old Bart Jameson at a McAlester residence.
An April 1 decision by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals applied the analysis behind the U.S. Supreme Court’s July 2020 decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma to the Choctaw Nation — meaning the state of Oklahoma does not have criminal jurisdiction over Native Americans or crimes committed against Native Americans in southeast Oklahoma
Due to Jameson's Native American status, the decision to refile a charge against Savage is solely upon the federal government in accordance with the Indian Country/General Crimes Act.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no complaint or indictment was filed against Savage in the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
District 18 District Attorney Chuck Sullivan said his office has been in contact with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Muskogee in regard to the case.
An order granting Savage's motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction showed prosecutors did not ask for a stay of the order to allow the DA's office to communicate with the U.S. Attorney or the Choctaw Nation "to ensure time for a warrant or detainer from the proper jurisdiction."
Testimony heard during a preliminary hearing in the case states Savage, along with Jameson and two other men, were socializing at a McAlester residence when Savage pulled a gun and “freaked everyone out.”
A witness testified after the gun was taken away from Savage, the group continued to drink and socialize before moving to the living room.
The witness continued testifying saying when he was trying to play some music when he heard a loud pop and saw Jameson fall to the floor and thought Jameson was “playing around” until he saw blood and Savage standing in the walkway between the living room and the kitchen.
According to the witness, he heard Savage laugh and testified that the woman did not seem concerned about the situation before he heard her say that there was no need for an ambulance because Jameson was dead.
Savage’s attorney, Blake Lynch, argued during the hearing for a demurrer of the charge, stating the evidence provided during the preliminary hearing did not meet “malice aforethought” for first-degree murder.
A mistrial was declared during a January 2020 trial during the jury selection process after both the prosecution and defense legal teams issued separate requests for mistrials claiming the jury pool was tainted by what was said during the voir dire questioning process.
Contact Derrick James at firstname.lastname@example.org