Dan Kirby charged with involuntary manslaughter
Eufaula City Councilman Dan Kirby has been indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge by a federal grand jury related to the death of Sheryl Bichsel in July 2022. (NonDoc)

An indictment of former Oklahoma legislator and current Eufaula City Councilman Dan Kirby for involuntarily manslaughter was unsealed today three weeks after a federal grand jury voted to charge him Feb. 15.

Kirby, a citizen of the Muscogee Nation, wrecked his motorcycle in Lake Eufaula State Park in July while his girlfriend, Sheryl Bichsel, was riding on the back. Kirby was uninjured, but Bichsel — a Choctaw Nation citizen — died.

Because Kirby is a tribal citizen, only the Muscogee Nation and the federal government had jurisdiction over the situation. The indictment occurred in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Oklahoma, and Kirby was booked into the federal courthouse in Muskogee today.

“Kirby, an Indian, did unlawfully kill S.B., in the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony, that is operating a motor vehicle under the combined influence of alcohol and any other intoxicating substance which may render such person incapable of safely driving,” the indictment, signed by U.S. Attorney Jordan Howanitz, states.

Reached Wednesday, assistant U.S. attorney Jarrod Leaman said the documents unsealed in federal court “speak for themselves.”

Stephanie Winesburg, Bichsel’s daughter, said news of Kirby’s indictment was “really good to hear.”

“I figured something was happening, but I don’t know why they didn’t notify the family,” Winesburg said. “I just think that it’s good that it has finally happened because I think he’s dangerous the way that he acts, and the way that he acted after he killed her was absolutely emotionless. His family can always visit him in jail. We’ll never literally be able to talk to my mom again.”

Bichsel had been riding on the back of Kirby’s motorcycle without a helmet as he was driving through Lake Eufala State Park when Kirby, who was wearing a helmet, lost control of the vehicle.

Kirby’s blood was drawn to test for the presence of drugs or alcohol following the fatal wreck, according to records from the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation processed the lab work for DPS, which then turned the case over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

Christine Riley, a longtime friend of Bichsel, said Kirby’s arrest will help her family “finally get justice.”

“I’m absolutely elated. It’s about time,” Riley said. “I am happy for Sheryl’s family that they can at least begin to start seeing a little bit of closure. We’ve got a long way to go as far as how the case will go. But for them just knowing that he is at least being booked for manslaughter and is finally going to have to stand trial, that means a lot to the family.”

Eufaula police contacted about cocaine

About three weeks after Bichsel’s death, Stephanie Winesburg was cleaning out her mother’s house when she found a baggie containing what she thought was cocaine on a bookshelf in the master bedroom. She called Eufaula police and said she believed the baggie belonged to Dan Kirby.

“Winesburg stated that Kirby had been staying at the house for two years and slept on the right side of the bed which is where the shelf was located,” Eufaula policec officer Trent Casinger wrote in an Aug. 16 report. “I then took photos of where the baggie was found before taking possession of it and a straw that was found in the same location. Once back at the Police [Department] I tested the white powdery substance and it indicated positive for cocaine. logged the evidence and then returned to normal duties.”

Leaman, the federal prosecutor, said he was “not allowed to comment” on the Eufaula police report.

While friends and family of Bichsel criticized Kirby’s relationship with her, calling it “awful,” it was not the first time Kirby faced questions over his interactions with women.

In 2017, then-Rep. Dan Kirby (R-Tulsa) resigned while facing expulsion from the Oklahoma House of Representatives for sexual harassment allegations. He had been a representative since 2008. In April 2021, Kirby won election to the Eufaula city council.

The family has also filed a civil lawsuit against Kirby regarding Bichsel’s death.