TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa mom is seeking justice for her son, again, nearly six years after he was murdered.
A jury convicted Emmitt Sam of first-degree murder in 2017, but now he’s being tried in federal court because of the Supreme Court's McGirt ruling for tribe-related crimes.
27-year-old Johnathan Stephens was killed at his home near 21st Street and Memorial Drive during a robbery attempt on June 25, 2016.
“He was an amazing person who could just make the whole room light up,” said Johnathan’s mom, Kim Stephens. “Anybody that was around him even if they were having a bad day he would make everybody smile."
Johnathan was a bright light to those who knew him. His daughter, Serenity, was just 2-year-old when he died. His whole life revolved around the little girl.
“He would want her safe,” said Kim Stephens. “He would want to know that she’s growing up to be a little girl and not have to worry about this guy lurking in the background."
Emmitt Sam and Nathan Simmons were convicted of Johnathan’s death and a string of carjackings in Broken Arrow and Tulsa.
Sam was serving a life sentence in prison for first-degree murder.
In December 2021, an appeals court overturned Sam’s conviction because of the McGirt ruling.
Sam is Native American and the crime happened on Indian land.
“I thought we were done with this,” said Kim Stephens. “I never thought we’d have to go through this again,” she said.
Sam is now charged in federal court with first-degree murder in Indian Country.
It’s been nearly six years since Johnathan’s death.
Kim says they’ve learned to live with their grief, and she’ll be a fixture in the federal courtroom until they get justice for Johnathan, again.
"My son was an amazing person and a great dad,” said Kim Stephens. “If we have to do this again to get justice for him, it’s worth every minute of it,” she said.
Emmitt Sam’s preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place Tuesday, Jan. 11.
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