OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Governor Kevin Stitt joined Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Wednesday night to talk about McGirt and the tribes say some of what was said amounts to misinformation.
The full interview can be viewed on Stitt’s YouTube page.
Throughout the conversation, he makes several statements, including one involving death row inmates using DNA testing to prove they are Native American, in hopes that their cases will be thrown out by the state. This all follows the US Supreme Court’s McGirt decision, which said the state cannot prosecute crimes involving Native Americans on Indian lands.
The governor referenced a 2018 case involving an Oklahoma man facing murder charges at the time. He was not on death row at the time. However, he tried to use an at-home DNA test to show he had Native American ancestry and could not be tried by the state. It did not work.
“I mean, Tucker, we have…we have people on death row doing 23andMe DNA testing trying to get their convictions overturned,” Stitt said. “It’s absurd.”
The case involved a man named Daniel Vasquez. He was charged with the murder of a pregnant woman. Before his trial, his attorney said he was Indigenous and the court at the time lacked jurisdiction, citing the 23andMe DNA test used by Vasquez. The lawyer did not provide more information to the court on the details of the tribe he was affiliated with, etc. Again, he was not on death row at the time and was only convicted of first degree murder last year. The governor’s office has no longer provided examples of where this sort of thing has happened.
“It was shocking to hear so much misinformation,” said Choctaw Nation Tribal Prosecutor Kara Bacon.
Bacon said there are more elements to tribal citizenship than an at-home DNA test, although it depends on the tribe.
“We use the 10th Circuit test which requires some degree of Indian blood and recognition of a federally recognized tribe of affiliation,” she said.
The governor’s office sent a statement to KFOR saying “the situation on the ground has become so absurd that convicted murderers are trying to use the McGirt decision as a card out of jail.”
“The state, if there is an Indian involved, has lost jurisdiction to prosecute these crimes. Our police have lost jurisdiction,” Stitt said.
Tribal officials say that’s not necessarily true.
“We’ve got a lot of crossover deputies okay,” Bacon said. “So when he said trouble or when he said local law enforcement couldn’t respond anymore, that’s actually not a fact. In fact, we work with about 85 officers or 75 agencies at the within our reserve who are constantly sending us accusations that we are in daily communication with that they come to our courts and testify.
Again, tribes do not use 23 and me or other home DNA tests as proof of tribal membership. Department of Corrections officials said this DNA test was clearly conducted outside of Vasquez’s custody.
the Director of Communications for Governor Carly Atchison tweeted this reply
“Of which 402,469 did not vote for Chuck Hoskin, Jr. #ThankfulThursday“
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