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Miccosukee Tribe of Florida

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Tribal leaders filed a federal lawsuit in mid-September to keep U.S. marshals off their property and prevent them from serving subpoenas in the case of a man accused of drowning his young sons. Officials say if the tribe succeeds, the first-degree murder trial against Kirk Douglas Billie, scheduled this month, likely will fall apart. Billie, 31, was charged with drowning the boys in 1997 to spite their mother, his former girlfriend, Sheila Tiger. He allegedly drove Tiger's pickup truck into the Tamiami Canal while Kurt Billie, 5, and Keith Billie, 3, slept in the back seat. Billie said he didn't know the boys were in the truck, while police said he acted deliberately. Three weeks after the deaths, tribal elders shook hands and agreed to "put the matter behind them," Miccosukee Chairman Billy Cypress said in court papers, denouncing "white man's justice." If prosecutors win, the tribe's status as a sovereign nation will be trampled, the Indians say. "The tribal members believed they have handled the issues, Indian to Indian," Cypress wrote to prosecutors last month. "The Indian community is different from other communities, they deal with matters in a different way."

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