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Pine Ridge man indicted on separate murder charges

A federal grand jury has indicted a Pine Ridge man on murder charges for two separate homicides.

Eighteen-year-old Jonathan Eagle Elk pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of South Dakota.

Prosecutors said Eagle Elk beat a man to death in June of 2022, then killed a woman a month later. Both homicides took place in Pine Ridge within blocks of each other. Both victims were homeless.

Eagle Elk was indicted in late October. Authorities said the case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office because the Major Crimes Act mandates that certain violent crimes alleged to have occurred on reservations be prosecuted in federal court as opposed to state court.

A trial date has not been set. If convicted, Eagle Elk faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.