MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

August 2, 2013

Ex-death row inmate transferred to federal custody

MUSKOGEE (AP) — An Oklahoma death row inmate whose state murder convictions and death sentences were reversed by a federal appeals court was detained by federal authorities Thursday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Muskogee said David Magnan, 51, of McAlester, was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service by U.S. Magistrate Steven P. Shreder. Magnan was arraigned in federal court on Tuesday on a charge of murder in Indian country and pleaded not guilty.

Magnan is accused in the deaths of James Howard, Karen Wolf and Lucilla McGirt on an Indian allotment in Seminole County. He pleaded guilty in state court in 2004 to three counts of first-degree murder and one count of shooting with intent to kill in a shooting spree that left the three victims dead and a fourth person injured.

Magnan was sentenced to death on each murder count and received a life sentence on the remaining count. All the victims except one were members of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.

Magnan, a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, appealed his convictions and sentences claiming that the crimes occurred on Indian land and that Oklahoma could not prosecute him. Last month, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in a ruling that said the crimes occurred in Indian country and that only the federal government had the authority to prosecute Magnan.

The appeals court voided Magnan’s convictions and sentences and ordered that he be released from state custody, but a three-judge panel that wrote the opinion said they presumed that federal authorities would arrest and prosecute Magnan “given the nature of the crimes and Magnan’s admitted guilt.” Federal authorities filed a formal complaint against Magnan on July 25.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has asked the appeals court to reconsider its decision.

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