Judge affirms state jurisdiction in murder case

A judge in Wyoming has ruled that the state has jurisdiction in a murder case involving a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe.

Attorneys for Andrew John Yellowbear argued that the state lacked authority to prosecute because the alleged crime occurred in Riverton. As part of the defense, they produced maps that showed Riverton is part of the Wind River Reservation.

If that was the case, Yellowbear would be tried in federal court and he would not face the death penalty for the July 2004 death of his 22-month-old daughter, Marcella Hope Yellowbear. But the judge denied two motions that would have ended the state's prosecution.

The trial, scheduled to start in March, is taking place in Thermopolis. Yellow Bear's lawyers had it moved out of fear that non-Indians and members of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, if picked for the jury, might be biased. Marcella was a member of the Shoshone tribe.

Get the Story:
Judge: State has authority in case (The Jackson Hole Star-Tribune 1/24)

Utah Indian Country Decision:
State v. Reber (November 10, 2005)

Related Stories:
State jurisdiction at issue in Wyoming murder case (11/17)
Utah court blocks state jurisdiction on hunting (11/11)
Witness dispute in tribal member's murder trial (10/19)
Judge agrees to move tribal member's murder trial (08/23)