Tulsa World

Inmate’s appeal rejected

The killer of a Tulsa woman in 1999 claimed McGirt applied

- CURTIS KILLMAN Tulsa World

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the appeal of a man on death row for the 1999 murder of a retired Tulsa banker.

The appellate court, in an opinion issued Thursday, denied the appeal by John Fitzgerald Hanson that was based in part on his membership in a Native American tribe.

Hanson claimed that his Native American ancestry, coupled with where the crime occurred, meant that based on the

U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 McGirt ruling, the state court did not have jurisdicti­on when it tried him.

The high court found in McGirt v. Oklahoma that the state did not have jurisdicti­on to try Jimcy McGirt for a murder because he was a member of a federally-recognized

American Indian tribe and the crime occurred within the never-dissolved 1860s-era boundaries of the Muscogee Nation.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals later expanded the

ruling to include four other tribes and their historic reservatio­n boundaries: the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole nations.

Hanson, also known as John George Hanson, was convicted in the murder of Mary Agnes Bowles, a 77-year-old retired Tulsa banker and a former Saint Francis Health System Auxiliary president.

Bowles was kidnapped from a Tulsa Promenade mall parking lot on Aug. 31, 1999. She was driven to a secluded area in northern Tulsa County, where she

was shot to death. A Tulsa County District Court judge found in June that while the crime occurred within the historic boundaries of the Cherokee Nation reservatio­n, Hanson’s case didn’t qualify for relief because he didn’t become a member of the

Muscogee Nation until after the McGirt ruling.

The appellate court placed a final decision on Hanson’s post-conviction relief request on hold while it considered claims in an unrelated case that McGirt claims could not be applied retroactiv­ely, or for those crimes occurring prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In August, the appellate court finalized its position on retroactiv­ity when it overturned a lower court’s order in a Pushmataha

County case that dismissed the second-degree murder conviction and 25-year prison sentence for Clifton Merrill Parish.

The appellate court, in its opinion in the Pushmataha County case, dubbed Matloff v. Wallace after the last names of the district attorney and associate district judge, ruled that McGirt applies only to crimes committed after the Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling.

In light of the Pushmataha County decision, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals determined that Hanson’s appeal must fail and that his request for a stay on the decision would do no good.

“Because Hanson’s state conviction­s were long final when McGirt was decided, his case is controlled by our decision in Matloff and he is not entitled to post-conviction relief based upon his jurisdicti­onal challenge,” the court wrote.

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Hanson
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Bowles

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