Mounds Man Found Guilty of First Degree Murder in Indian Country
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Oklahoma
A jury today convicted a 31-year-old Mounds man for shooting and killing an acquaintance the day the two rekindled an old friendship.
“A federal jury evaluated compelling evidence presented by federal prosecutors and found Kyle Sago guilty of murdering Daniel Morgan. I am thankful for exemplary performance by Assistant U.S Attorneys Ross Lenhardt and Aaron Jolly during the three-day trial,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “As evidenced by two murder convictions in two trials this week, my office and our partners at the FBI and Tulsa Police Department have demonstrated we will uphold the law and fight for justice on behalf of victims of gun violence and their families.”
Kyle Quentin Sago, 31, was found guilty of first degree murder in Indian Country, two counts of felon in possession of ammunition; and causing death by using and discharging a firearm in the commission of first degree murder.
On July 25, 2020, Officers from the Tulsa Police Department were notified of a shooting that occurred within the Muscogee Nation reservation. A witness, victim Daniel Morgan’s girlfriend, identified Kyle Sago as having fired the shots that killed the victim.
At trial, Morgan’s girlfriend explained that she woke up at about 3:30 pm the day of the crime and saw Sago visiting with the victim. Morgan introduced Sago as a good friend. She noticed burns on Sago’s arms. Morgan explained that he had saved Sago years ago from a fire at a meth lab. She said the two continued to exchange stories and visited.
After Sago left, the victim lay down for a nap because he had been working the night prior. Morgan’s girlfriend then heard multiple Facebook Messenger calls to the victim’s phone while he was asleep. She noted that Kyle Sago initiated the calls.
The witness stated that Sago soon returned to the residence in a white sedan When she stepped outside, he demanded to speak with Morgan about "business" and she should wake him.
When Morgan walked outside, the witness stated that she heard multiple gunshots. She moved to the door and witnessed Sago shoot at Morgan approximately four more times from the white sedan as the victim retreated around to the side of the house.
Other witnesses called 911 and ran to assist. Morgan’s girlfriend also assisted and called the victim’s mother. She further cooperated with authorities in identifying Sago as the shooter. Daniel Morgan sustained 4 gunshot wounds and died at the scene.
Several witnesses who saw the crime occur confirmed the suspect shot from the same white sedan and continued to drive and fire at the victim as he ran for cover.
Law enforcement testified that during their investigation, they recovered three spent 9mm shell cases from the street near where Sago was located when he shot Morgan. Officers later discovered two spent 9mm shell cases inside Sago’s white sedan and located nine spent 9mm shell cases in the backyard of Sago’s home. The Tulsa Police Department’s crime lab verified the cases found in the victim’s car and at his home matched the 3 shell cases found at the scene of the crime.
After the United States rested its case, Sago took the stand and testified that he and Morgan had been friends since Sago was 15 and he had previously lived with Morgan for one year. He noted that he had reached out to Morgan approximately two months prior to the crime and the two had exchanged messages, agreeing to meet. The day of the murder, Sago admitted that after the initial meeting, he had tried to contact Morgan via Messenger multiple times and told Morgan’s girlfriend to have the victim come outside. He stated that Morgan looked angry, threw down his cell phone, and started walking to the car. He stated that he felt threatened as Morgan approached and fired at the victim to protect himself.
In closing, lead federal prosecutor Ross Lenhardt thanked the jury for their service to the community and to the family and friends who had attended the trial. He then debunked the defendant’s claim of self defense by reviewing the evidence. He reminded the jury that Sago took time to get gas before the shooting, continuously checked up on the victim via Messenger, took his firearm with him when he returned to the home, confirmed his target was present, asked for the victim to come out of the house, and hid his firearm until Morgan got close enough to fire at him. Sago paused… then continued firing at the victim as he ran for cover with his back exposed and hunched over. Sago shot again, and again, and again and again. Sago then hid the gun, his phone, and his car to hinder the investigation. Lenhardt stated the evidence showed that Sago acted with premeditation, and therefore, the jury must find the defendant guilty of first-degree murder.
The jury deliberated for two hours then returned guilty verdicts on all counts.
The FBI and Tulsa Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ross E. Lenhardt and Aaron M. Jolly prosecuted the case. Mr. Lenhardt is a prosecutor from the Western District of Pennsylvania. He volunteered to assist prosecution efforts here in the Northern District of Oklahoma due to increased jurisdictional responsibilities regarding crimes involving Native American victims or defendants and that occur within the Muscogee Nation and Cherokee Nation Reservations.
Updated September 22, 2021
Indian Country Law and Justice