SD Supreme Court says Yankton man's murder conviction stands
A Yankton man serving life for killing his girlfriend was not unduly prejudiced at trial by extensive evidence that he had dismembered the victim’s body.
The South Dakota Supreme Court made its opinion public on Thursday, Oct. 7.
Stephen Falkenberg committed the murder in March 2019 in Yankton County and then drove the body to his family’s property in Michigan. He cut off the victim’s head and hands, which have never been recovered. He then dumped her torso off a bridge onto the frozen river below.
Falkenberg told investigators he had shoved the victim, and she died when her head hit the wall. But witnesses testified that injuries to his right hand resembled a boxer’s fractures.
Falkenberg was convicted of second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory penalty of life without parole in the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
The Supreme Court found that a restitution order covering future costs for the victim’s family was not appropriate. Justices remanded that decision for a restitution hearing and new order.