PAWHUSKA, Okla. — The case against an Osage County man who arrested in connection with the death of his girlfriend has been dismissed after he spent more than six months in jail without a court-appointed attorney.
The Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/2dcQ9UH ) reported that an Osage Nation judge dismissed the case against Thomas Eaves last week, citing his constitutional right to a speedy trial.
Eaves was arrested in August 2015 in connection with the death of Star Pennington.
The federal government originally claimed jurisdiction in the case, but U.S. District Judge John Dowdell dismissed the felony murder charge against Eaves in April after determining that FBI agents detained Eaves without establishing probable cause.
According to an affidavit, Eaves reportedly told FBI agents that he had previously broken Pennington’s jaw at a Tulsa motel because “she was loud and would not shut up.”
The Osage Nation filed a second-degree murder charge after the federal case was dismissed, but Eaves’ tribal-court appointed attorney withdrew. Eaves was left without legal counsel for 163 days between the two judicial systems.
Under the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2013, tribes cannot prosecute felony charges in criminal cases or impose sentences of more than three years.
“Having been already incarcerated for nearly one-half of the maximum sentence for the alleged crime is unjust and entirely at odds with the protection granted by the right to a speedy trial,” Eaves’ attorney Gene Dennison wrote in the dismissal motion.
Eaves had been convicted in 1986 of second-degree murder for the shooting death of his father. He also pleaded in 2000 to tampering with a victim by intimidation, physical force and threats. Eaves served prison time for both cases.
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com