First Non-Native Convicted By Muscogee (Creek) Nation
OKMULGEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has convicted a non-native for the first time in a domestic violence trial under the Violence Against women act.
Lighthorse police arrested Antonio Martinez-Juarez back in November for violating a protective order and for domestic violence against a tribal member on trusted land.
“He thought the only thing we could do was send him back to Mexico, but as it turned out, he's sitting in jail now on this domestic charge,” said Chief Robert Hawkins.
Lighthorse Police received a call that there was a domestic assault in progress at a Creek Nation housing complex late last year.
When they responded, a woman told them a man she had a protective order against assaulted her.
“The woman said he was getting her around the shoulders and neck area and then he fled the area,” said Chief Hawkins.
Chief Hawkins says Antonio Martinez-Juarez came back to the scene and was arrested for domestic violence and violating a protective order, but he didn't think the tribe would be able to prosecute him.
“With this act being in play, it unties our hands so to speak on these domestic crimes that occur on tribal properties,” said Chief Hawkins.
The Violence Against Women Act allows the tribe to prosecute a non tribal member for committing a crime against a native on tribal land. Prior to this act, Police would have to call a neighboring agency to make the arrest.
“It gives us the opportunity to prosecute people whenever they commit crimes against our citizens,” said Muscogee (Creek) Nation Prosecutor Shelly Harrison.
By implementing the Violence Against Women Act, the Nation could use what's called "special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction" to prosecute the non-native.
The nation is one of only 23 tribes in the country to exercise this jurisdiction.
The National Institute of Justice reported American Indian and Alaska Native women are five times as likely to experience domestic violence as Caucasian women and Muscogee (Creek) Nation says they will continue to take these cases very seriously.
“You can't just come onto Indian country as a non-native or not even a citizen of the United States and assault a native woman and think you can just walk away from that,” said Harrison.
Martinez was sentenced for his crimes then booked into the Okmulgee County Jail where he remains on a hold for US Immigration and Customs for his immigration status.