Former EOSC instructor acquitted following jury trial

May 2—A former Eastern Oklahoma State College instructor charged in September 2022 with possessing drugs in his on-campus apartment was acquitted following a jury trial.

Bryan Denny, 46, was initially charged with distribution of a controlled dangerous substance including possession with intent, unlawful removal of a dead body, possession of a firearm while committing a felony, and possession of marijuana, according to documents filed in Choctaw Nation District Court.

The charges of unlawful removal of a dead body and possession of a firearm while committing a felony were dismissed with the distribution charge amended to possession of a controlled dangerous substance in January 2023 following a preliminary hearing. The possession of marijuana charge was dismissed prior to trial.

Denny was found not guilty on the possession charge following a two-day trial held this week at the Choctaw Nation Judicial Center in Durant.

In a social media statement, Denny's attorney, Brecken Wagner, said the jawbone that was found in Denny's apartment was a family artifact that was given to Denny by his grandfather.

"The accusations of distributing cocaine, and disturbing a corpse, could not even make it past a preliminary hearing, in which prosecutors simply had to show the court that some evidence existed of these crimes," Wagner wrote. "The court threw out those charges. This left the lone accusation that Bryan had possessed cocaine (residue), which is a felony in the Choctaw Nation."

Wagner said it took the jury less than 45 minutes to reach the verdict of not guilty.

"After arguments concluded and the prosecutors for the Choctaw Nation claimed to the jury that they had proven their allegation beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury returned a "not guilty" verdict in less than 45 minutes," Wagner wrote. "'This prosecution reeked of personal animosity, and inequality."

An EOSC representative said Denny was employed as a criminal justice instructor at the college and was let go from the college after the charges were filed. Denny served on the campus' police department as an auxiliary investigator, and previously served as EOSC's Police Chief and Dean of Student Life during his employment at the college.

EOSC Police Chief Alton Jones stated in probable cause affidavit college employees contacted him after conducting routine safety inspections of all student and residential apartments on campus.

The affidavit states college employees knocked on Denny's apartment door several times before entering the residence.

The report states Denny began "displaying nervous behavior" after being told about the routine inspection, went into the living room and grabbed a box and a "marijuana rolling tray" and placed the items into a bathroom drawer.

Jones wrote that he knew Denny was a tribal citizen and contacted Choctaw Nation prosecutors, who told Jones to move forward with a search warrant request that Choctaw Nation District Judge Richard Branam later approved.

Officers from EOSC, Wilburton, and the Choctaw Nation conducted the search warrant on Denny's residence, where they found marijuana and paraphernalia in the living room and four small bags containing what field tested positive for cocaine, the affidavit states.

Officers also found a "black hard plastic carrying case" on the top shelf of the laundry closet that contained "what appeared to be a human jawbone with five decayed teeth."

Denny declined to speak with investigators without counsel present when he was asked about the "artifact."

According to the affidavit, Choctaw Nation District Court Judge Amy Pierce granted a new search warrant for the search of stolen property and desecration of human remains.

No other items were found in the home, but officers collected three firearms that were in the residence, the report states.