A Pawhuska man admitted in court Thursday to the 2015 killing of an Osage County oilman.
Jeremy Keith Reece, 35, will receive a 45-year federal prison sentence as part of a plea agreement, which still requires judicial approval.
Federal prosecutors charged Reece Nov. 25 with second-degree murder in Indian Country in connection with the shotgun shooting death of Rick Holt, 46.
“In 2015, Jeremy Reece callously murdered Rick Holt on the lands of the Osage Nation,” U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said in a statement.
“Heinous acts such as those committed by Reece will not go unpunished in the Northern District of Oklahoma.”
Holt’s shot and burned body was found in a shallow grave on an oil lease in Osage County.
Holt was seen leaving the Pawhuska Golf and Country Club on the morning of Sept. 5, 2015.
Osage County Sheriff’s officials’ investigation of the missing man led them to Reece, who led authorities to the oil lease.
Reece reportedly was angry over photos of his ex-wife that were reportedly sent to him from Holt’s phone.
Holt had been in an “on-again off-again relationship” with Claudette Reece for more than a month, according to court records.
Reece allegedly told authorities that he killed Holt during a confrontation on the victim’s 40-acre ranch, records show. Investigators said they had no evidence the photos existed.
Reece was arrested along with his brother, Tyler Wayne Reece, 23, who is still being held in Osage County jail on related charges, according to online records.
State prosecutors have fought to try the brothers for murder since Osage County Special Judge Stuart Tate first dismissed the case because the homicide appeared to have occurred on tribal land and both defendants are tribal members.
The case has seen little movement in state court after the state Court of Criminal Appeals issued a ruling which stayed the criminal case until the jurisdictional issues could be worked out.
Crimes occurring on tribal land are generally the jurisdiction of federal or tribal courts.
Tyler Reece has not been charged in federal court.
Reece’s plea deal includes an agreement that state prosecutors will drop first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping charges that have been pending against him since 2015.
Shores said Assistant U.S. Attorney and Tribal Liaison Shannon Cozzoni worked closely with Mike Fisher, district attorney for Osage and Pawnee counties, to move the case forward.
“I would note that this investigation is ongoing and we will not rest until we have held accountable all those responsible for this senseless act of violence,” Shores said.
Fisher, in a statement provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said: “While there can never be a resolution to Mr. Holt’s murder that can return him to his family and friends, the District Attorney’s Office is thankful for the tireless efforts and assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in bringing some closure to those who knew and cared about Rick.”
Reece, meanwhile, told Chief U.S. District Judge John Dowdell that he, accompanied by his brother, Tyler Reece, shot Holt, set him on fire and then buried him in a shallow grave.
“Had he died before that?” Dowdell asked Reece, referring to Holt’s being set ablaze.
“He died before he was set on fire,” Reece replied.
Dowdell set sentencing for Reece on May 6, when he will decide whether to approve the binding plea agreement.