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Oklahoman whose case led to McGirt ruling gets federal life sentence

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Oklahoma Department of Corrections
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This July 8, 2004, photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Patrick Dwyane Murphy in McAlester, Okla. The former Oklahoma death row inmate whose case led to a landmark ruling on tribal sovereignty has been sentenced to life in prison. Muscogee Nation citizen Murphy was sentenced Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in federal court in Muskogee.

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) — A former Oklahoma death row inmate and tribal citizen whose case led to a landmark ruling on tribal sovereignty was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison by a federal judge.

Patrick Murphy, 53, a citizen of the Muscogee Nation, was originally sentenced to die in McIntosh County for the 1999 killing of George Jacobs. But his attorneys challenged his murder conviction, arguing the state of Oklahoma didn’t have jurisdiction to prosecute him because he is a member of a federally recognized tribe and Congress had never disestablished the Muscogee reservation where the killing occurred.

A federal appeals court ultimately vacated his conviction, and the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. While his case was pending there, the court issued its landmark ruling in a similar case with a different defendant, Jimcy McGirt, which affirmed the federal appeals court ruling.

As a result, Murphy was retried in federal court and convicted in August 2021 of second-degree murder in Indian Country, murder in Indian Country in perpetration of kidnapping, and kidnapping resulting in death. The non-paroleable life sentences on each count were ordered to run concurrently.