Man Sentenced to 300 Months in prison for a 2017 Claremore Murder
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Oklahoma
A defendant was sentenced Tuesday in federal court for killing a man with a machete in Claremore in 2017, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Michael Eugene Spears, 59, of Claremore, to 300 months in prison for the second degree murder of victim Mark McKinney. Following his prison sentence, he will spend five years on supervised release.
“The defendant’s murderous act and attempted cover-up earned him a 25-year federal prison sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “The dedicated work of the Claremore Police Department, FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tom Duncombe and Justin Bish have ensured justice for the victim and his family. I am proud of their resolve to hold accountable those who commit brutal acts of violence in our communities.”
"Today's sentencing brings to an end a tragic story of cold-blooded murder and an attempted cover-up by a merciless and violent criminal," said FBI Oklahoma City Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Gray. "Thanks to a determined investigation by the FBI, Claremore Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Oklahoma, Spears will be held accountable for his heinous crime."
The murder occurred following a disagreement between the two men on Nov. 18, 2017, in a trailer owned by Spears’ sister. Sometime after the brutal attack, Spears told a relative about his crime and asked to borrow a truck so he could transport the victim’s body to a lake, where he planned to dispose of it. A relative reported the crime to law enforcement the next morning and the victim’s body was recovered from the trailer.
Prosecutors argued for a sentence of 30 years in prison, given the brutal nature of the murder. In particular, prosecutors noted how the defendant had stabbed the victim repeatedly with the sixteen-inch-blade weapon, beat him until he was unrecognizable, took his phone and the few dollars in his pocket, and left him to die on the floor while Spears spent hours drinking.
The defense argued for a sentence of 15 years, contending that Spears’ years of alcoholism, his troubled childhood, his issues with judgment and impulse control, and evidence of cognitive decline showed a lower sentence was appropriate. The defense also pointed to Spears’ lack of criminal history and contended that Spears may have acted in self-defense.
Prosecutors noted that the defendant’s issues with impulse control and judgment were the very reasons he continued to pose a danger to the public and that the evidence at the crime scene in no way corroborated Spears’ claims of self-defense.
The FBI and Claremore Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas E. Duncombe and Justin G. Bish prosecuted the case.
Spears was previously charged and convicted of first degree murder in Rogers County District Court. Because the defendant is a tribal citizen and the crime occurred within the Cherokee Nation reservation, his state conviction was vacated following the Supreme Court’s McGirt v. Oklahoma decision and subsequent other court decisions. The U.S. Attorney’s Office then prosecuted the case. First degree murder under Oklahoma law has similar elements to the federal crime of second degree murder.
Updated January 31, 2023
Indian Country Law and Justice