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.

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:

Victoria Wicks

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

Governor Dennis Daugaard has issued a brief new release saying that he is surprised by the decision, since he heard very little about support in South Dakota for the change.

The South Dakota Board on Geographic Names conducted public hearings last summer and collected written comments. The state board initially recommended a name change but later rescinded that recommendation.

Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Viken

In the United States, there are federal laws, and there are state laws. And it's state law that prohibits felony acts such as murder, rape, burglary, aggravated assault, and larceny.

But the state does not have jurisdiction in Indian Country. And so if a tribal member on a reservation commits a major crime, he or she is prosecuted by the federal government.

It's a unique situation. Indigenous people, members of tribes, are commonly tried in federal court for state crimes, while other racial or ethnic groups are not.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the sexual contact conviction of a Brookings pastor. Timothy Bariteau was convicted in June 2015 of rubbing his genitals against the buttocks of a 14-year-old girl on multiple occasions. Three justices upheld the conviction, but two justices dissented, saying the current legal definition of sexual conduct doesn't cover Bariteau's actions. SDPB's Victoria Wicks explains.

Victoria Wicks

An ACLU lawyer says South Dakota is looking good compared with certain other states when it comes to voting rights. Courtney Bowie was in Rapid City Thursday to give a presentation on this state's voting laws. She says a federal judge in North Dakota just declared that state's voting process unconstitutional because it puts up barriers to Native voters. But South Dakota has protections in place that make registering fairly easy and that allow for voting by affidavit.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement officers' personnel records can be subpoenaed by defendants in criminal trials. State law says personnel records are confidential, but justices say the U.S. Constitution gives a defendant the right to prepare a defense. However, justices set guidelines to be met before officers' confidential records are opened, starting with a three-pronged test that originated with the prosecution of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974.

Victoria Wicks

This weekend in Rapid City, a one-block stretch of Seventh Street was closed to traffic and open to the CHAOS Maker Fair. Simply stated, the event featured things people make, whether high-tech, like holograms and musical bananas, or low-tech, like wooden block bridges. Vendors offered food and goods for sale, musicians took to a small stage under a huge tent, and tables displayed technology in a fun way.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

Work by contemporary Oglala Lakota artist Wade Patton is featured at an exhibit at Rapid City's Sioux Indian Museum, located in the Journey Museum. The show, called Re-Vision, opened this weekend and continues through Sept. 30.

Patton was raised in South Dakota and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Black Hills State. He then moved to Boston and spent a decade there working as an artist as well as an art framer before returning home.

SD Department of Corrections

Death row inmate Briley Piper was back in court last week in Deadwood. Piper is challenging his incarceration in the South Dakota State Penitentiary, saying his legal counsel was insufficient and he should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.

Lawrence County State's Attorney John Fitzgerald says the hearing lasted all day July 21.

A ranching couple from Quinn whose cattle drowned during a winter storm will receive compensation from their insurance company. The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that even though the cattle were not found immersed in water, they died from liquid saturating their lungs. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this follow-up to the 2013 storm, which devastated parts of Western South Dakota.

For 2013 SDPB coverage of Winter Storm Atlas, click on the links below.

Victoria Wicks

At the Black Hills Pride Festival in Rapid City's Wilson Park this weekend, 49 rainbow flags dotted the lawn at the entrance to the event. Each one commemorated one of the 49 victims who were shot and killed last month in Orlando at Pulse nightclub. Mingling with the crowd were police officers, on foot or on bikes, providing security. A board member of the Equality Center, Amber Le Blanc, tells SDPB's Victoria Wicks that safety is an ongoing concern for people whose gender is fluid.

SD Department of Corrections

Charles Russell Rhines has been appealing his death sentence for the past 23 years, but his appeals process is coming to an end. Earlier this week, a federal judge denied Rhines' petition for habeas relief based on his contention that he didn't get sufficient representation from his lawyers. Rhines' next step is the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, if he gets permission from the federal court to once again appeal.

Paul Dean Jensen was serving life without parole for the murder and kidnapping of Mike Hare when the U.S. Supreme Court gave Jensen a second chance. The inmate was 14 years old when he committed his crimes. He was tried as an adult, and under South Dakota law at the time, his life sentence was mandatory. He spent almost 20 years in prison, and then his sentence was reconsidered at a hearing in Fort Pierre, held on Thursday and Friday last week.

Victoria Wicks

Paul Dean Jensen was serving life without parole for the murder and kidnapping of Mike Hare when the U.S. Supreme Court gave Jensen a second chance. The inmate was 14 years old when he committed his crimes. He was tried as an adult, and under South Dakota law at the time, his life sentence was mandatory. He spent almost 20 years in prison, and then his sentence was reconsidered at a hearing in Fort Pierre, held on June 2-3.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

Twenty years after committing murder, South Dakota penitentiary inmate Paul Dean Jensen has been given a reduced sentence. Sixth Circuit Presiding Judge John L. Brown heard testimony for two full days, June 2-3, before setting the new sentence at 200 years. Jensen, just 14 at the time of the crime, had an extensive juvenile history, but supporters say he's found religion behind bars.

Photo by Cara Hetland

Paul Dean Jensen was just 14 years old when he shot and killed Michael Hare in Stanley County. For that crime, Jensen was sentenced to life without parole, the mandatory penalty under South Dakota law. But now, 20 years later, U.S. Supreme Court rulings have given Jensen the opportunity to make a case for a lesser sentence. A clinical psychologist testified Thursday, June 2, that Jensen's potential release would require training and supervision to bring Jensen's life skills to an adult level.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

In a Fort Pierre courtroom, Paul Dean Jensen is up for reconsideration of his sentence. He robbed and murdered Michael Hare about 20 years ago, and because he was only 14 at the time, he now has a chance to argue for a sentence less than life without parole. Witnesses for Jensen say that he has changed over the years and now could be a productive member of society. But witnesses for the state testified that the crime remains fresh in their memories and has left wounds that are still raw today. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports from inside the Stanley County Courthouse.

Photo from the "Free Paul Dean Jensen" Facebook page

In November 1996, Paul Dean Jensen was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. That sentence was mandatory at the time, even though Jensen was only 14 when he committed premeditated murder. Now, almost 20 years later, he's getting a chance at someday walking free. Because of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Jensen's sentence is up for reconsideration at a hearing in Fort Pierre this week.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

A federal judge has set a hearing date to reach a resolution in a lawsuit alleging violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA. Judge Jeffrey Viken ruled more than a year ago that practices in Pennington County violate statutes and the U.S. Constitution. But he told parties at a status hearing on May 26 that recent transcripts show those practices have not changed. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has followed this case since it was filed more than three years ago.

For more information, open the links below, and those stories will give you more links to additional coverage.

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