Victoria Wicks

SDPB Freelance Reporter/Producer

Rapid City freelancer Victoria L. Wicks has been producing news for SDPB since August 2007. She has in the past been a newspaper reporter, and she spent about 14 years advocating for crime victims in Rapid City and Aberdeen. Vicky is also a creative writer; several of her short stories have been published, one of them in an anthology titled Fishing for Chickens: Short Stories about Rural Youth. In addition, Vicky is a visual artist, creating pottery, watercolors, oil and acrylic paintings, and photographs. She holds a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of South Dakota.

Matt Gade/The Daily Republic

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of Maricela Diaz. She was 15 years old when she and her boyfriend tortured, stabbed, and burned to death a 16-year-old girl near Mitchell.

Diaz claims the sentencing judge did not thoroughly take into consideration her dependency on her abusive boyfriend and her young age when he sentenced her to 80 years in prison.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the firing of a former Division of Criminal Investigation agent.

Mark Black argued that the DCI did not have sufficient cause to fire him. He also claimed that he wasn't given due process by the DCI or by the Civil Service Commission and the Sixth Circuit Court when he appealed his firing.

Black was dismissed for "chronic misbehavior," poor judgment, and allegations of domestic abuse. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

To read the SD Supreme Court opinion in its entirety, click on this link:

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court usually makes new opinions public on Thursdays. But because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the opinions came out a day early this week.

On Wednesday, Nov. 23, the court upheld five criminal convictions, as well as the firing of former DCI agent Mark Black.

One of the convictions upheld was that of Maricela Diaz, who took part in a cruel murder in Mitchell when she was 15 years old. Her appeal was heard in October.

Chicago artist Kaye Buchman calls her show "Big Wild." The exhibit opened on Friday, Nov. 18 at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City. It features huge sheets of white paper covered with designs drawn with a fine ink pen. Also included are several tiny, bright mixed-media paintings and a triptych, or three-panel painting, built with layers of pigment.

The artist tells SDPB's Victoria Wicks that these works, from the simple to the complicated, are connected by their natural energy.

The exhibit is on display at the Dahl through March 4, 2017.

Victoria Wicks

The Pennington County State's Attorney is adding four new employees to handle additional responsibilities of working with crime victims.

The expansion of county government comes on the heels of Amendment S, or Marsy's Law. It was passed by South Dakota voters and takes effect this week. The law offers rights to victims of all crimes and to some of their relatives.

Victoria Wicks

A group of philosophical thinkers gathered at the Rapid City Public Library on Sunday, Nov. 13, to ponder the big questions. What is the meaning of being? What does it mean to be conscious? What is responsibility? How are we different from machines?

This session was led by Black Hills State professor Timothy Martinez. He spoke with SDPB's Victoria Wicks about the importance of hearing other people's ideas when forming your own.

Courtesy of Annette Bosworth/SDPB file photo

Two years ago, Annette Bosworth was a candidate for the U.S. Senate. One year ago, she was convicted of perjury. Today, Nov. 8, the South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments in her appeal.

While a candidate, Bosworth verified that she circulated nominating petitions, when in fact she was in the Philippines at the time the signatures were collected.

She now claims that her felony conviction goes beyond what her actions merit. But the prosecutor says she lied on official state documents, and her conviction is solid.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

SD Department of Corrections

A Lead man serving life in prison for murdering his girlfriend has appealed his conviction. The South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday, Nov. 7.

James Lewis Rogers says police officers should have had a warrant to search his home, where they found his girlfriend's body in a suitcase in his closet. And he says he was initially questioned without first hearing his rights. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Victoria Wicks

Two candidates for Public Utilities Commissioner came together for a forum in Sturgis on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Incumbent Chris Nelson and challenger Henry Red Cloud spent about an hour introducing themselves to the audience and answering questions, primarily about renewable energy. Questions about Keystone pipelines, both in eastern and western South Dakota, were off the table because of ongoing litigation surrounding both.

This is the only time these candidates will make a joint appearance during their campaign.

Victoria Wicks

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, when writers around the world attempt to complete a novel in a month. And every year, at least for the past several years, writers in Rapid City have joined in. A small group showed up this year for the kick-off, and SDPB's Victoria Wicks found them at a coffee shop, the traditional haven for creative writers.

The first Rapid City write-in is this Saturday, Nov. 5, at Dunn Brothers, from 2-4 p.m. Facebook also lists a Sioux Falls group meeting from 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays at Caribou Coffee.

Victoria Wicks

Incumbent Public Utilities Commissioner Chris Nelson faced challenger Henry Red Cloud at a forum in Sturgis this weekend. This is the only joint appearance the two will make this election season.

Red Cloud says it's time for South Dakota to move away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy.

Nelson says the PUC is legally mandated to keep utility rates low.

The forum was sponsored by Dakota Rural Action and Prairie Hills Audubon Society.

Victoria Wicks

Hundreds of costumed children celebrated Halloween surrounded by dinosaur bones inside the School of Mines and Technology Museum of Geology on Saturday evening. This is the ninth year the school has hosted trick-or-treaters for its Night at the Museum.

One of the organizers tells SDPB's Victoria Wicks that children's interest in dinosaurs can lead to careers in science.

Photo courtesy of Rick Mills

The Director of the SD State Railroad Museum examines the history of wagons and railcars this week in Deadwood.

On Thursday, Rick Mills is giving a talk about transportation at the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC) in Deadwood. Mills is a scholar, author, and speaker. He tells SDPB's Victoria Wicks that historically, modes of transportation have depended on each other to evolve.

Victoria Wicks

A train caboose preserved by a Huron woman is now on display at the South Dakota State Railroad Museum in Hill City. Jeanne Bauder donated the caboose that is now the centerpiece at the museum. A celebration is planned this weekend, Oct. 29, to welcome the caboose and thank Bauder for her gift.

The reception runs from 1 to 3 p.m., with a program at 2 p.m. Admission is free. The museum is located on the truck route, 222 Railroad Avenue, Building A, Hill City.

Courtesy of Jason Glodt

A retired Rapid City counselor says crime victims will lose privacy if voters approve Amendment S. That's the ballot issue also known as "Marsy's Law," which adds crime victims' rights to the state constitution. At issue is the definition of "victim," which the amendment expands to include certain family members of the direct victim.

The primary supporter says the family members aren't included unless they have suffered harm.  SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Private Attorney Says Marsy's Law Diverts Resources

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, the South Dakota Supreme Court was asked this question: can an officer pull over a suspected drunk driver for no reason other than a hearsay tip?

The case comes out of Brookings, where a Hardee's employee reported to a manager that a drive-through customer seemed drunk.

The manager called the police without seeing the customer himself.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports on this case.

Victoria Wicks

Drunk-driving laws have been on the books for more than a century. But after all those years of legislation and case law, the bugs still haven't been worked out.

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the opinion in Missouri v. McNeely. The court ruled that before compelling a blood test, law officers at routine stops have to get consent or a warrant. That changed procedures that had been in place nationwide for almost 50 years.

And it invalidated parts of states' implied consent laws, including South Dakota's.

A former agent for the Division of Criminal Investigation is appealing his firing for unbecoming conduct. The South Dakota Supreme Court heard the case on Monday, Oct. 3.

Former DCI agent Mark Black was discharged for inability to control his emotions, poor judgment, and dishonesty, leading to an end to his eight-year career with the state's top law enforcement agency.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports that some accusations against Black come from information posted on the Internet.

The South Dakota Supreme Court starts its October term with a full docket. Its first argument heard Monday, Oct. 3, is an appeal from Maricela Diaz. She was convicted in January 2015 of murdering an acquaintance by stabbing her and then lighting her on fire in the trunk of a car. Diaz was fifteen years old at the time of the crime.

The SD Supreme Court is holding its October term at Northern State University in Aberdeen. Oral arguments continue Oct. 4 and 5.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

Two speakers at a Rapid City conference on Friday say sustainability is a concept born of necessity. As the planet's population grows, its resources are strained, and new practices have to be developed to keep the Earth and its inhabitants healthy. These local professors say intellectual diversity is the key to working out solutions. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports on this conference sponsored by the Rapid City Sustainability Committee, a 10-member citizen group appointed by the city to explore environmental sustainability.

City of Rapid City

The Rapid City Sustainability Committee is hosting a two-day conference and exposition at the Dahl Arts Center, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

City Councilman Jerry Wright gave a presentation Friday. As now-retired manager of the city's solid waste division, he has long been an advocate of recycling.

Wright says reusing materials reduces the amount of energy it takes to manufacture from scratch. He says that reduction results in real profit.

Courtesy of SD Governor's Office

It was a big day for literacy in Rapid City on Tuesday, Sept. 27. Children had the opportunity to hear First Lady Linda Daugaard read stories, and third graders got to meet children's author Jennifer Richard Jacobson.

Both women say engaging children early in reading and writing leads to an understanding of the power of communication.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks went to the Dahl Arts Center to talks with Daugaard. She then crossed the street to the Rapid City Public Library to find Jacobson, who gave an evening talk there to the general public.

Katie Adkins / The Dahl, Rapid City

Candace Forrette uses clay to re-imagine geography. The result is a series of abstract landscapes featuring stoneware, metal, and smoke. Her exhibition, titled "Meditation/Reflection," opened this weekend at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City.

Forrette now lives in Billings, but she grew up in Rapid City and was surrounded at the opening by local friends and family. SDPB's Victoria Wicks joined them to learn more about the artist's process.

Candace Forrette's work is on display at the Dahl Arts Center through Dec. 3. To see images of her work, click on the link below:

Victoria Wicks

Watercolorists from the Black Hills and beyond opened a display of their paintings this weekend in Rapid City. A Colorado artist and author critiqued the works included in the 21st annual Northern Plains Watercolor Society's exhibition.

Colette Pitcher says watercolor is an interactive medium with light and emotion. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this story.

The exhibition is on display at the Dahl Arts Center through Oct. 22.

Photo courtesy of Jason Glodt

In November, South Dakota voters will decide whether to add a crime victims' bill of rights to the state constitution. It sounds like a sympathetic cause. It gives victims the right to be treated with fairness and respect and to participate fully in criminal justice processes.

The state director of the campaign, Marsy's Law for All, says an amendment to the constitution is necessary to ensure that victims' rights are permanent.

Victoria Wicks

In November, South Dakota voters will decide whether to add a crime victims' bill of rights to the state constitution. Advocates' and opponents' positions are starting to emerge.

The proponent, Marsy's Law for All, is launching what its director calls a six-figure radio campaign.

Opponents don't yet have an organized campaign, but they include the South Dakota State Bar and State's Attorneys Association.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks is researching Amendment S and the contentions of those aligned for and against it.

Victoria Wicks

A group of artists from Minnesota and western Wisconsin spent time painting en plein air, or in the outdoors, in the Black Hills last week. Some of their works were temporarily on display this weekend at the South Dakota State Railroad Museum. SDPB's Victoria Wicks went to Hill City to see the paintings and meet the president of the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota.

Victoria Wicks

Some of the artists whose works are included in the Seventh Biennial Governor's Art Exhibition have been creating art for decades. And many of them live in the Black Hills. Two of them are Barb Hallberg, a potter, and Tim Peterson, a painter. SDPB's Victoria Wicks visits the exhibit at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City to learn what distinguishes these artists' work.

The Governor's show is at the Dahl through December 10. It then travels to Brookings, Vermillion, and Sioux Falls, ending its run in January 2018.

Victoria Wicks

A program to automatically provide information to crime victims in South Dakota is coming online now in some areas. And within a year, information should be available to victims in all counties across the state. The Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification System, or SAVIN, is designed to enforce existing victims' rights under state law.

Victoria Wicks

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names has changed the name of Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak.

Governor Dennis Daugaard and U.S. Senator John Thune have each issued a brief news release expressing dismay at the decision.

But activists who have worked on the name change for more than a year are gratified to see results.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks is covering this story and has more on this latest decision.

For coverage on first round of statewide hearings, click on the link below:

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