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Press Release

Federal Jury Convicts Idabel Resident Of Murder And Assault With A Dangerous Weapon In Indian Country

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Oklahoma

MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced today that Stewart Wayne Coffman, age 59, of Idabel, Oklahoma, was found guilty by a federal jury of Second-Degree Murder in Indian Country and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to Do Bodily Harm in Indian Country.

The jury trial began with testimony on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, and concluded on Thursday, June 16, 2022, with the guilty verdicts.

During the trial, the United States presented evidence that on October 5, 2017, Stewart Wayne Coffman murdered Joe Freeman Battiest Jr. with a metal pipe, at Coffman’s residence in Idabel, Oklahoma.

The guilty verdicts were the result of an investigation by the Idabel Police Department, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Coffman was originally charged in October 2017 and convicted in October 2018 of First Degree Manslaughter in the District Court of McCurtain County, Oklahoma. Pursuant to the United States Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, the state conviction was reversed for lack of jurisdiction because the victim, Joe Freeman Battiest, Jr., was a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe and the crime occurred within the boundaries of the Choctaw Nation Reservation. Consequently, the defendant was charged and prosecuted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

The Honorable Eric F. Melgren, U.S. District Judge in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, sitting in Muskogee, presided over the trial and ordered the completion of a presentence report. Sentencing will be scheduled following completion of the report. Coffman was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending the imposition of sentencing.

Assistant United States Attorneys William Cosner and Erin Cornell represented the United States.

Updated June 17, 2022

Violent Crime
Indian Country Law and Justice