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Capital punishment in South Dakota

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Title: Capital punishment in South Dakota  
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Subject: Capital punishment in the United States, Abortion in the United States, Capital punishment in Kansas, Capital punishment in Maine, Marion Albert Pruett
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Capital punishment in South Dakota

Capital punishment is legal in the U.S. state of South Dakota. First-degree murder with an aggravating circumstance is the only capital crime in the state.[1]

History and current practices

South Dakota executed four men between 1877 and its Nebraska due to problems with South Dakota own chair.[5] South Dakota was the second-to-last state to use electrocution, and Sitts' execution was South Dakota's last until after Furman.[6]

On January 1, 1979, Governor Bill Janklow signed South Dakota's post-Furman death penalty statute. It was the first act he signed as governor.[7] All subsequent executions have been by lethal injection. As of October 2012 three people, all white males, have been executed since then; two of those cases were voluntary.[8]

Capital crimes

First-degree murder with an aggravating circumstance is the only capital crime in South Dakota. Aggravated kidnapping was a capital crime until 2006, however the only executions in South Dakota have been for murder.[1] Aggravating circumstances are defined as follows:

(1) The offense was committed by a person with a prior record of conviction for a Class A or Class B felony, or the offense of murder was committed by a person who has a felony conviction for a crime of violence;

(2) The defendant by the defendant's act knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person in a public place by means of a weapon or device which would normally be hazardous to the lives of more than one person;

(3) The defendant committed the offense for the benefit of the defendant or another, for the purpose of receiving money or any other thing of monetary value;

(4) The defendant committed the offense on a judicial officer, former judicial officer, prosecutor, or former prosecutor while such prosecutor, former prosecutor, judicial officer, or former judicial officer was engaged in the performance of such person's official duties or where a major part of the motivation for the offense came from the official actions of such judicial officer, former judicial officer, prosecutor, or former prosecutor;

(5) The defendant caused or directed another to commit murder or committed murder as an agent or employee of another person;

(6) The offense was outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible, or inhuman in that it involved torture, depravity of mind, or an aggravated battery to the victim. Any murder is wantonly vile, horrible, and inhuman if the victim is less than thirteen years of age;

(7) The offense was committed against a law enforcement officer, employee of a corrections institution, or firefighter while engaged in the performance of such person's official duties;

(8) The offense was committed by a person in, or who has escaped from, the lawful custody of a law enforcement officer or place of lawful confinement;

(9) The offense was committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing a lawful arrest or custody in a place of lawful confinement, of the defendant or another;

(10) The offense was committed in the course of manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing substances listed in Schedules I and II.[9]

Sentencing and clemency

Death sentence is to be determined by jury. Life imprisonment without parole may also be selected by the jury.[7] As in any other state, people who are mentally retarded[10] and people who were under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime[11] are constitutionally precluded from being executed. In South Dakota, the governor may grant commutation of a death sentence with a non-binding recommendation from the Board. As of 2008 no commutations have been granted.[12]

Location and method

Death row is located in Sioux Falls.[13] Lethal injection is the sole method of execution.[14]

Individuals executed by the State of South Dakota

Inmate Death Victim(s) Under Governor
Jack McCall 1 March 1877 Wild Bill Hickok John L. Pennington
Thomas Egan 13 July 1882 His wife, Mary Nehemiah G. Ordway
Brave Bear 1 November 1882 Joseph Johnson
James Gilmore 15 December 1882 Bisente Ortez
James B. Lehman February 19, 1892 Constable John Burns Arthur C. Mellette
Nathaniel Thompson January 20, 1893 Electa Blighton Charles H. Sheldon
Jay Hicks November 15, 1894 John Meyer
Chief Two Sticks 28 December 1894 four victims
Charles Brown 14 July 1897 Emma Stone Andrew E. Lee
Ernest Loveswar 19 September 1902 George Puck and George Ostrander Charles N. Herreid
Allen Walkingshield January 15, 1902 Mrs. Ghost-Faced Bear
George Bear 5 December 1902 C. Edward Tayloe and John Shaw
Emil Victor 16 November 1909 Mr. and Mrs. James Christie, daughter Mildred and Michael Ronayne Robert S. Vessey
Joe Rickman December 3, 1913 Ellen Fox and her 14-year-old daughter, Mildred Fox Frank M. Byrne
George Sitts April 8, 1947 Special state agent Thomas Matthews. He also killed Butte Co. Sheriff Dave Malcolm, but was not separately tried for that murder. George T. Mickelson
Elijah Page July 11, 2007 Chester Allan Poage Mike Rounds
Eric Robert October 15, 2012 Correctional officer Ronald "RJ" Johnson Dennis Daugaard
Donald Moeller October 30, 2012 Becky O'Connell

See also


  1. ^ a b Crimes Punishable by the Death Penalty
  2. ^ a b Regional Studies Central
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b South Dakota DOC-FAQ-Capital Punishment
  5. ^ South Dakota's Chair
  6. ^ { Americas Electric Chairs]
  7. ^ a b Death Penalty Information Center
  8. ^ Death Penalty Information Center
  9. ^
  10. ^ Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002)
  11. ^ Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005)
  12. ^ Clemency
  13. ^
  14. ^ Methods of Execution
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