July 13, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Oklahoma District Attorney Declines Charges in Nex Benedict Case Amid Controversy

Tulsa County DA’s Decision Comes Amid Calls for Independent Investigation

A little over a week after the Oklahoma Medical Examiner released a cause of death for Nex Benedict, the Tulsa County District Attorney released a statement on Thursday, March 21, that says he will not file charges in the case. The full autopsy report is due to be released on March 27. According to local news reports, Benedict’s family lawyer declined to comment. 

Tulsa County District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler wrote, in a three-page press release, that deadnames Nex Benedict in its first sentence, calls their death a “tragedy,” and states that “Suicide is sad.” Kunzweiler goes on to state that the Medical Examiner’s report that the cause of death was a combination of “Benedryl and Prozac” goes on to state that Nex’s injuries were “superficial” and that there was no internal injury caused by blunt force trauma. 

Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD, released a statement today that said, “Time and time again, leaders in Oklahoma have showed that they don’t value Nex’s life, or the lives of other Indigenous and 2STGNC+ (Two Spirit, transgender, gender-noncoforming+) students. Everyone from Superintendent Walters and Owasso High School to the unaccredited since 2009 state Medical Examiner’s Office, the District Attorney, and Owasso Police Department have failed Nex Benedict and failed us all. It is critical that an independent investigation is completed and the truth about what happened to Nex and what all marginalized youth in Oklahoma schools endure is brought to light. We will never stop seeking justice for Nex, and we will never stop holding leaders accountable for serving their communities fairly and with compassion.”

The US Department of Education announced that they will be investigating the Owasso School District on March 1, and the results of that investigation are still to come. 

According to KOCO, Kunzweiler also wrote, “From all the evidence gathered, this fight was an instance of mutual combat. I do not have a reasonable belief that the State of Oklahoma could sustain its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt if charges were presented for prosecution.”

The press release states that the Owasso Police report allegedly found notes that “appeared to be related to the suicide.” yet didn’t reference the fight. He also notes that the “precise contents of the suicide note are a personal matter in which the family will have to address within the privacy of their own lives.” 

Finally, he writes that he agrees with the Owasso Police Department “that filing juvenile charges is not warranted.” and that “whether or not individuals may choose to seek legal counsel in the civil realm of the court system is a decision best left to them.”

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