Defendants Plead Guilty in Two Unrelated Homicides

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Two men have pleaded guilty this week in federal court in two unrelated murder cases that occurred in Mayes and Craig Counties, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.

On Wednesday, Daren Gilson Puffinbarger, 32, pleaded guilty to second degree murder in Indian Country. Puffinbarger shot Muscogee Nation citizen Lucas Sanders in the head six times while the victim lay in bed then set fire to the victim’s body. The crime occurred on Aug. 18, 2021.  Agents located two small propane torch kits in the bedroom, one on the bed and the other sitting upright on the floor next to the bed, which were used to start the fires. The FBI, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and Mayes County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel-lyn A. McCormick is prosecuting the case.

In a separate case, Johnny Lee Arnold, 34, pleaded guilty to second degree murder in Indian Country on Tuesday. In a plea agreement, he admitted that on Aug. 19. 2019, he killed Cherokee Nation citizen Christopher Boren by stabbing him 17 times. The victim’s body was found near the vicinity of 350 Road and 4430 Road in Craig County. The FBI, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Mayes County Sheriff’s Office and Craig County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Brasher is prosecuting the case.

“Federal prosecutors, victim specialists and law enforcement are committed to fully investigating violent crimes that occur within Indian Country and to supporting victims and their families as we seek justice on their behalf,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “Those individuals committing heinous crimes, such as murder, in the Northern District of Oklahoma will be held accountable.”