Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Released On Technicality

A death row inmate in Oklahoma, 50-year-old David Magnan – who admitted to intentionally killing two women, a man, and injuring another – has been granted a release on a court’s order due to a technicality.

Magnan pled guilty in Seminole County District Court to three counts of first-degree murder and one count of shooting with intent to kill on March 3, 2004. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection.

But Magnan’s conviction was overturned Friday by the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals after it was determined the triple homicide had taken place on an Indian reservation – official Native American land where the state technically has no authority or jurisdiction.

Only federal and tribal laws have prosecutorial authority on reservation territory – providing a legal loophole in this case.

Therefore, Magnan, a member the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, was removed from death row at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, where he’d been for nearly 10 years.

The judgment came with the presumption that federal authorities will intercede and re-arrest and prosecute Magnan, given the homicidal nature of the crimes and admitted guilt in the triple murder and wounding of other members of the Seminole Nation.

If he is ever tried federally though, it’s likely Magnan will not face the death penalty as it is rarely imposed in federal courts.


The killings occurred in 2004 inside an inherited Seminole residence, where family and friends had gathered to celebrate a birthday. Magnan drove to the home with two other men, where he shot and injured Eric Coley who’d come outside to speak to him.

Court records state Magnan then entered the house, noticed James Howard, said “goodbye,” and shot him.

Karen Wolf and Lucilla McGirt were also shot. Lucilla died from complications stemming from her gunshot wound two weeks later.

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