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South Dakota (2012)

State v. Harruff, S.D. 4, ¶ 46, 939 N.W.2d 20, 31 (2020)

The defendant was found guilty of second-degree murder of the victim and was sentenced to life in prison. The victim was discovered dead by her daughter. Police and paramedics were called. The defendant was suspected immediately due to his history of domestic violence and extreme jealousy. The defendant was contacted and denied it, but he got caught in lies. Later, he admitted he hit her during an argument.

The victim never reported domestic violence to police, but she told family/friends and kept photos.

Snell, a pathologist, confirmed the victim died by manual strangulation. He found injuries externally and internally on the neck. Petechial hemorrhages were found above the point of pressure to the neck. He testified that unconsciousness can occur with 10-15 seconds of pressure and death within 3-5 minutes.

State v. Hayes, 855 N.W.2d 668 (2014)

The victim testified she feared death when the defendant repeatedly threatened to kill her, tied her up, choked her, sat on her chest, and impeded her breathing by strangling her with his hands and stuffing socks into her mouth. He also held a knife to her neck.

To stay alive, the victim begged for her life and obeyed all of his demands. She also tried to act as normal as possible.

After he left, she fell asleep from exhaustion then called a friend. She was hysterical and was sobbing. Her friend told her to call police.

Detective observed red marks on the victim’s neck, bald spots on her head from the defendant pulling her hair, and large amounts of her hair in the bathroom which he photographed.

The victim received medical attention and a sexual exam. There were no petechiae. They took swabs which matched the defendant. The victim was crying at the hospital and lying in the fetal position.

A nurse testified about petechia.

The victim’s regular hairdresser also testified that the bald spots did not exist before the incident.

The defendant was found guilty of rape and aggravated assault and was sentenced to 20 years on each, concurrent.

Appellate issues were related to voir dire, prosecutorial misconduct, court denying motion for acquittal because of insufficient evidence, and cumulative errors. The conviction was upheld.

State v. Fasthorse, 776 NW2d 233 (2009)

The defendant offered to give the victim a ride home. Then he took her off the road and raped her twice. He also punched, choked, and threatened to kill and shoot her. There was very little information about strangulation. The defendant was convicted of kidnapping, aggravated assault, and rape. The defendant claimed that there was insufficient evidence of serious bodily injury. The victim was released from the ER within 3 hours and had no life-threatening injury. No expert was called, and it was unclear if anyone was trained in nonfatal strangulation.


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