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Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians of Oregon

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A judge rejected a motion for dismissal by attorneys for a murder suspect who claimed his tribal status prevented state courts from trying him in the stabbing death of a woman in 1999. Scott Steffler, 23, is charged with aggravated murder in the death of Sheila Theeler, who was found stabbed in the throat in a field near a rural intersection on Aug. 19, 1999. His lawyers had argued that an 1853 treaty with the tribe gave jurisdiction to federal courts because Steffler is a tribal member. Douglas County Circuit Judge Joan Seitz rejected the argument, citing a 28-year-old U.S. Supreme Court case, Mescalero Apache Tribe vs. Jones. It ruled "absent express federal law to the contrary, Indians going beyond reservation boundaries have generally been held subject to nondiscriminatory state law otherwise applicable to all citizens of the state. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty if Steffler is convicted. The suspected murder weapon, a knife, was found in Steffler's possession when he was arrested in Sacramento, Calif., several days after the killing.

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