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Press Release

Individual Pleads Guilty To Felony Murder 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 that Melvin James Battiest, 60, entered a guilty plea to one count of Felony Murder in Indian Country, in violation of 18 United States Code Sections 1111, 1151 and 1153, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not more than life, a fine of $250,000.00, and a term of supervised release of not less than 5 years.

The Indictment alleged that on or about April 23, 1984, deputies of the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call about a body that was found in the Wahoo Bay in the Fort Gibson Lake area.  An autopsy revealed that the person found (Donald Cantrell) died of blunt force trauma to the head and chest.  During a subsequent investigation, the defendant admitted that he and another man robbed and murdered Mr. Cantrell at Wahoo Bay and stole his truck and burned it.  The defendant took detectives to the crime scene and showed them where everything took place.

The charges arose from an investigation by the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office, the Muskogee Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Honorable Timothy D. Degiusti, U.S. District Judge in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, accepted the plea and ordered the completion of a presentence investigation report.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Conway represented the United States.

Updated September 23, 2021

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime