Leroy Jamol Smith was arrested on June 9, 2020 and charged in connection with a series of sexual assaults against five victims that took place in Muskogee County, Oklahoma between 1993 and 1995.
The FGG investigation was conducted by Parabon Nanolabs. The initial confirmation was made with a sample of Smith’s DNA that was on file with the Tulsa Police Department as a result of a warrant in an unrelated case in 2005. This case involved a double homicide in which Smith was acquitted, and so his DNA was never processed and uploaded to CODIS.
The statute of limitations has expired on these sexual assaults, an outcome that was influenced by the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in McGirt v. Oklahoma, 591 U.S. 2020. That case determined that the location in which these crimes took place falls in the territorial boundaries of the Five Civilized Tribes, including the Muscogee Nation, as granted by a treaty in the 1830s. This means that this area is an American Indian Reservation for the purposes of the criminal law, and therefore the state lacks the authority to try a defendant if the defendant or the victim is Native American or a descendent of one of the tribes.
Smith’s case was therefore moved from the Muskogee County District Court to federal court, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. The State of Oklahoma had passed a law extending the statute of limitations from its usual 5 years in cases where new DNA evidence becomes available. However, under federal law, the statute of limitations had expired. A federal judge dismissed the charges against Smith, and he was released from custody in August of 2020.
Prosecutors refiled the charges, claiming that Smith was not a member of a recognized tribe at the time of the offences, and so was not covered by the McGirt ruling. He could therefore be tried in Muskogee County Court (one of his victims was also a member of a federally-recognized tribe, and so the charges in her case were excluded from this motion). The Special District Court ruled in Smith’s favour in April of 2021. In May of 2021, prosecutors stated that they had come to the end of the line, and they would not file any further pleadings. The case against Smith was dismissed.
Ray Carter reported that officials with local tribal governments did not respond to queries as to whether Smith was a tribal member, or the ramifications of the McGirt decision on law enforcement in Oklahoma. Rebecca Nagle claims that only a small number of offenders will be able to access federal relief.
It is currently not known how the McGirt decision will affect ongoing attempts to address the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in the area.
5 News Web Staff. “‘This Was a Case That Gripped Muskogee With Fear,’ Serial Rapist From the 90s Arrested.” 5 News Online, June 10, 2020. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.5newsonline.com/article/news/crime/muskogee-oklahoma-serial-rapist-arrested/527-be51c3de-23b5-46e3-bd79-fffe840542f6.
Burk, Jared. “Accused Muskogee Serial Rapist from 1990s Captured Thanks to DNA.” KSWO ABC 7 News, June 10, 2020. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.kswo.com/2020/06/10/accused-muskogee-serial-rapist-s-captured-thanks-dna/.
Carter, Ray. “Officials Offer Few Solutions as Alleged Rapist is Freed.” Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, September 2, 2020. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.ocpathink.org/post/marcuss-story-sober-living-through-community.
Mugavero, Amelia. “Judge Denies State New Prosecution of Accused Serial Rapist.” News on Six, May 10, 2021. Accessed January 30, 2023. https://www.newson6.com/story/6099c001e3aa350baf90a94b/judge-denies-state-new-prosecution-of-accused-serial-rapist-.
Nagle, Rebecca. “Oklahoma’s Suspect Argument in Front of the Supreme Court.” The Atlantic, May 8, 2020. Accessed 23 January 2021. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/oklahomas-suspect-argument-front-supreme-court/611284/.
Oxendine, Chelsea. “Law Enforcement Officials Announce Arrest in 25+ Year Old Rape Cases.” Muskogee Phoenix, June 10, 2020. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.muskogeephoenix.com/news/law-enforcement-officials-announce-arrest-in-25-year-old-rape-cases/article_dbf49be2-ab37-11ea-8a12-135d59142f04.html.
Ridenour, Elizabeth. “Man Charged with Five Rapes Freed from Jail.” Muskogee Phoenix, August 27, 2020. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.muskogeephoenix.com/news/man-charged-with-five-rapes-freed-from-jail/article_3e426f11-7995-53ed-b848-e8d3d0ede24b.html.
Rowland, Ronn. “Judge Rules in Favor of Defense in Smith Rape Case.” Muskogee Phoenix, April 12, 2021. Accessed January 30, 2023. https://www.muskogeephoenix.com/news/judge-rules-in-favor-of-defense-in-smith-rape-case/article_dc37fa4e-9c05-11eb-93d7-1b55e4c59697.html.
U.S. v. Leroy Jemol Smith. Order, Case No. CR-20-057-RAW. In the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, August 27, 2020.
U.S. v. Leroy Jemol Smith. Order, Case No. CR-20-057-RAW. In the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, August 31, 2020. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://casetext.com/case/united-states-v-smith-362476.