University of Kansas

In The Moment ... May 3, 2018 Show 329 Hour 2

May 5th has been designated National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls'.

A resolution by the U.S. Senate declares the day for the second year in a row, citing startling statistical evidence. In some tribal communities, women  face  murder  rates  that  are  more  than 10 times the national average.

Other reports indicate that 84.3% of Native women experience violence in their lifetimes; 56.1% are victims of sexual violence.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Convicted killer Rodney Berget says he wants to stop an appeal that’s preventing him from being put to death, but his attorney can't support the move. The issues are enough to delay major action in Rodney Berget’s case for a few months.

Rodney Berget was in a Minnehaha County courtroom Friday. He wants to end his execution appeal.

Judge Douglas Hoffman asked if he understood that waiving his rights is a path to execution. Berget responded "yes".

That wasn’t enough for the judge to authorize a path to execution that day.

Trio Accused Of Contract Killing Plead Not Guilty

Jun 14, 2016

Three men accused of stabbing a woman to death last year and hiding her body in a shallow grave near Rockerville have pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges against them, including first-degree murder. 

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.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A bill to end the death penalty in South Dakota failed in the state legislature. State Senator Art Rusch, who spent many years as a prosecutor and circuit judge, brought Senate Bill 94 to the House State Affairs Committee Wednesday. 

Testimony on both sides was often emotional. Lynnette Johnson of Sioux Falls lost her husband on his 63rd birthday in 2011.  Ronald “RJ” Johnson was attacked and killed during an escape attempt by two men serving life prison terms.  Johnson’s widow is opposed to repealing executions in the state.

SD Department of Corrections

This week corrections officials are releasing a kidnapper from the state penitentiary. Glen Walker, 46 was an accomplice of Robert Leroy Anderson. Anderson murdered two women in the 1990s. Now South Dakota Department of Corrections leaders want people to know Walker is leaving prison December 24, 2015.

Families of the victims and law enforcement know Glen Walker is walking out of prison on Thursday. State Secretary of Corrections Denny Kaemingk says he’s notifying the public because Walker’s release is high-profile – not necessarily high-risk.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Investigators are trying to piece together factors that left a family of six dead in a murder-suicide. Fire engulfed a home near Platte one week ago, and responders found six bodies inside. Preliminary autopsy results show Nicole Westerhuis and four children died of shotgun wounds. Authorities suspect husband and father Scott Westerhuis killed them before shooting himself.

Scott Westerhuis was business manager for an organization called Mid Central Education Cooperative. Recent audits reveal financial issues with grant money that funnels to the group.

South Dakota authorities say four children and their mother found dead in a house fire last week are homicide victims. Attorney General Marty Jackley says preliminary autopsy results show Nicole, Kailey, Jaeci, Connor, and Michael Westerhuis died of shotgun wounds.

Officials say the sixth person dead is husband and father Scott Westerhuis. He also died of a shotgun wound, and authorities suspect suicide.

On September 17th flames engulfed a home just south of Platte, South Dakota. After first responders put out the fire, officials found a family of six dead.

Former Police Chief Charged With First Degree Murder

Sep 9, 2015

The former Harrisburg police chief has been indicted on a first degree murder charge.

A Gregory County grand jury indicted 63 year old Russell Ray Bertram on charges that he murdered his fiancé Leonila Stickney in 2009.  

Shortly after the incident investigators stated Stickney was shot during a hunting accident.   But this grand jury indictment alleges the shooting was not accidental.  

The State Attorney General Marty Jackley says this is a cold case that turned around thanks to continued work of investigators.

Man Suspected Of Infant Death In Rapid City

Jun 29, 2015

Twenty-six-year-old Kristopher Houchin of Rapid City is charged with  first degree rape, child abuse, and murder of an infant. Houchin was taken into custody on Friday, shortly after authorities received word from the Rapid City Hospital that an infant child had died.  A preliminary autopsy Monday morning shows the infant victim died of blunt force trauma. Captain James Johns of the Rapid City Police Department say’s the autopsy lead to the murder charges.

A weekend shooting left one man dead and another person in custody for manslaughter. Saturday night 32-year-old Leon Paulson died after he was shot.

Authorities say 22-year-old Brady Hooker is accused of shooting and killing a man at his home in Lemmon, South Dakota during an argument that escalated. Hooker faces first-degree manslaughter.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says the difference between murder and manslaughter charges mainly applies to intent.

A man living in Florida is in custody for a murder near Sioux Falls that happened in November of 1989.  Law enforcement responded to a shooting and found a woman dead. A grand jury Thursday indicted the man and a judge issued a warrant.

Prison officials say a man convicted of murdering a Sioux Falls woman apparently hanged himself in his cell. Authorities pronounced James McVay dead at the state penitentiary Thursday morning after CPR attempts failed. 

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The man charged with murder in the death of a two-year-old boy faces new charges including felony kidnapping and assault. Joseph Patterson, 28, was out of jail on bond since October because his father paid $750,000 cash.

Patterson made his initial appearance in a Minehaha County courtroom Wednesday afternoon.

A judge set bond for Joseph Patterson at $1 million cash. He’s behind bars for first degree kidnapping, which is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

South Dakota’s highest court says a confession can be used against a woman at trial. The decision stems from the killing of a 16-year-old Mitchell girl in November of 2009. A man pleaded guilty to the murder; now his former girlfriend’s case is moving to trial.

More than five years ago, 16-year-old Jasmine Guevara’s body was found in the trunk of a car set on fire in rural Hanson County. She suffered stab wounds, and an autopsy says she was burned alive.

Sioux Falls officials are releasing more details regarding a stabbing that killed a woman. It happened Wednesday afternoon at a home in the southwest part of the city. The woman in her fifties is dead, and a man suspected in her murder is in jail.  

Within half an hour of a deadly stabbing Wednesday, Sioux Falls police arrested a suspect.

At 3:30 in the afternoon, officers got a call that a woman was bleeding. First responders tried to save her, but 53-year-old Brenda Lynn Hansen died at the scene. Police Chief Doug Barthel says it appears she died from stab wounds.

Four men are in custody following Monday afternoon's shooting in Sioux Falls. Jordan LeBeau, 20, was killed and his father was injured in the shooting.   Two of the suspects were located Tuesday morning near Dell Rapids while the other two were arrested in Watertown later Tuesday afternoon. Brian Anderson, 18, and Trevor Kruthoff, 17, are being charged with murder. Sam Clemens with the Sioux Falls Police Department says there was a motive.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The man accused of killing his girlfriend’s two-year-old in Sioux Falls earlier this month is out of jail on bond. He was officially charged with murder Monday.

South Dakota authorities say 27-year-old Joey Patterson abused 2-year-old Tyrese Ruffin on October 9th. The toddler died two days later. Patterson was arraigned on charges Monday in Lincoln County on an October 18th grand jury indictment.

Presentation On Deadwood's Chinatown

Jun 20, 2013

Historians Bill Markley and Jerry Bryant are hosting a presentation on the unsolved murder of Di Lee with a brief discussion on the archaelogical dig on Lower Main Street's Chinatown district in Deadwood. Di Lee, known to many as Deadwood's China Doll, was a woman of mystery. She was rich, single and was purported to be the most beautiful woman in Deadwood. During the night of November 27, 1877, Di Lee was murdered after she answered a knock on her door. Bryant and Markley will delve into Deadwood's Chinese community and present the facts of this unsolved case.

Execution of Eric Robert

Oct 16, 2012

SDPB News Director was part of the media pool that covered the execution of Eric Robert on Monday night.  Robert had pleaded guilty in the April 12, 2011, slaying of prison guard Ronald Johnson during a failed escape attempt.  Robert asked to be put to death, saying he would kill again.  He was put to death by lethal injection at the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls.  He was pronounced dead at 10:24 p.m.

Eric Robert Execution

Oct 15, 2012

SDPB News Director Cara Hetland is part of the media pool that is covering tonight's execution of Eric Robert.  Robert, 50, pleaded guilty to the April 12, 2011, slaying of a prison guard during a failed escape attempt and asked to be put to death, saying he would kill again.  He is scheduled to die by lethal injection tonight at 10 p.m. at the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls.  Hetland visits with Dakota Midday host Karl Gehrke.

South Dakota Executions

Oct 11, 2012

Richard Dieter, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., discusses the scheduled executions of Eric Robert and Donald Moeller this month.  He also touches on the differences between lethal injection by a single drug process and a three-drug protocol along with the cruel and unusual punishment arguments in South Dakota.

A convicted murderer who denied any involvement for two decades now says his killed a little girl. In Thursday’s federal court case challenging South Dakota’s method of lethal injection, Donald Moeller himself answered questions aloud in his last action to avoid the death penalty.

A federal court hearing on South Dakota’s death penalty protocol moves forward Thursday, and the death row inmate involved must be in court.

Earlier this week, an attorney representing convicted child killer Donald Moeller filed paperwork asking a judge to dismiss the case. But attorneys may still argue about South Dakota’s lethal injection method.