JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Federal authorities say four Choctaw tribal members have been charged with murder, accused in the beating death of another Choctaw man whose burned body was found on a reservation last year.
The information emerged in federal murder charges filed against Keyshawn Willis, Keenan Martin, Jerome Steve and Monte Isaac.
The four are accused of killing Demetrius Sam on Nov. 2 in the community of Tucker on the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Reservation in Neshoba County.
A lawyer for Willis declined to comment. Lawyers for the other men did not immediately return emails seeking comment Monday.
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U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Anderson on Monday ordered authorities to keep all four men in jail, declining to release them or set bail. The men have not entered pleas as to guilt or innocence and grand jurors are likely to consider whether to indict the men. Federal officials handle prosecutions of felonies on Indian reservations.
An April 18 sworn statement by FBI agent Charles Morrow Jr. says Martin, Steve and Willis confessed on video to beating Sam with their hands and feet, and then with a steel pipe, shovel and posthole digger. It said Sam was then doused with lighter fluid and set on fire.
Morrow said Isaac, in a wheelchair, encouraged the assault, shouting “Kill him, kill him!” Martin also says Isaac tried to find an ax to dismember the body and tried to remove a GPS ankle bracelet from Sam’s ankle. A tribal court services officer who responded to the anklet’s alarm found Sam’s body burning, according to court documents.
“When Martin was asked who killed Mr. Sam, he replied that all four of them had killed him,” Morrow stated.
The FBI agent didn’t outline any motive in the death.
Morrow said police found blood on the hands of Willis and Steve. He said forensic testing found Sam’s DNA on the skin or clothing of Martin, Steve and Willis and on Isaac’s wheelchair.