Attorneys for a local couple accused of torturing a child have filed a motion to dismiss following Thursday’s landmark decision by the Supreme Court.
Ashley Dawn Marie Schardein, 24, and Billy James Menees, 27, were each charged in May with several counts related to the alleged child abuse and torture of a 10-year-old girl and a 4-year-old girl, according to documents filed at the Pittsburg County Courthouse.
Both remained in the Pittsburg County Jail on Friday with a $100,000 bond each, jail records show. They have pleaded innocent to the charges.
The 5-4 Supreme Court ruling found Congress never “disestablished” the reservation status of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and overturned state convictions of two men, Jimcy McGirt and Patrick Murphy, who both challenged their state convictions to the Court. Both men will now face new trials in federal court.
Court records show a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction was filed Thursday in the case against Schardein and Menees by their defense attorneys, Brecken Wagner and Blake Lynch.
The motion states the 10-year-old girl allegedly abused and tortured by the pair is a member of the Muskogee Creek Nation, “one of the recognized five civilized tribes and a party to the 1833 Treaty with Congress establishing a ‘permanent home to the while Creek Nation of Indians.’’’
According to the motion, since the pair is accused of committing the alleged crimes against a tribal member in Pittsburg County, located within the boundaries of the Choctaw Nation “and subject to all treaties between” the tribe and the federal government “that any crimes” committed against the girl “shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States.”
Attorneys wrote that the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, signed in 1830, allotting lands that includes modern day Pittsburg County “has not been rescinded by either party and remains in full force and effect today,” the motion states.
The motion quotes the Major Crimes Act, which gives the federal government jurisdiction over crimes committed by and against Native Americans within Indian country.
“Any Indian who commits against the person or property of another Indian or other person any of the following offenses, namely, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, maiming, a felony under chapter 109A, incest, a felony assault under section 113, an assault against an individual who has not attained the age of 16 years, felony child abuse or neglect, arson, burglary, robbery, and a felony under section 661 of this title within the Indian country, shall be subject to the same law and penalties as all other persons committing any of the above offenses, within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States.”
According to court documents, Schardein is charged with eight counts of child abuse, conspiracy, and kidnapping in relation to the 10-year-old girl.
Menees is charged with five counts of child abuse, conspiracy, kidnapping, and three counts of enabling child abuse in relation to the girl, documents state.
Schardein faces an additional charge of child abuse against a 4-year-old with Menees an additional charge of enabling child abuse, according to court documents.
A hearing over the motion was not set as of press time Friday.
Contact Derrick James at firstname.lastname@example.org