A Tulsa man who already pleaded guilty to strangling his wife to death will now have his case moved to federal court because of the recent McGirt ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The victim's family had to cancel their flights to Oklahoma after they had plans to be in court for Brandon Smith’s sentencing, which would have been two weeks ago.
Smith is being held in the Tulsa County Jail, now facing a new murder charge in federal court.
Prosecutors said Smith called 911 and admitted to strangling his wife, Cynthia Mayfield, at a home near 5th and Utica in March of 2019.
He was initially charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter in January.
After the McGirt ruling came down from the Supreme Court, Smith's attorney argued the crime scene is part of the Creek Nation Reservation.
Smith is also a member of the Cherokee Nation, so a Tulsa County judge had to dismiss the case.
"This is a classic example of what that decision's done and how it's gonna play out in a lot of other cases,” Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said.
Cynthia was a mother of four and has a family in California. They were expecting to be in Tulsa two weeks ago for Smith’s sentencing, which was also pushed back because of COVID-19.
Director of the Victim Witness Center Heather Prater said they’ve been working with the family since the beginning of the case.
"They were ready to have their victim impact statement, have their day in court, to talk about the victim and kind of talk about how it's impacted their lives, to only be told, don't come here from another state, but also that's not gonna happen, anytime soon,” Prater said.
Smith's case is now in federal court, with a new charge of "Murder in Indian Country."
"When you've done all those steps, and you get to the last step, to be told, that that's not the last step -- it's heartbreaking,” Prater said.
U.S. Attorney Trent Shores tweeted Friday about his office taking over the case, saying in part, "Justice will be served."