Capital punishment in South Dakota
As of April 2017 three condemned, all white males, have been executed since capital punishment was reinstated in the state in 1979; two of those cases were prisoners who waived their normal appeals and choose to be put to death.
When the prosecution seeks the death penalty, the sentence is decided by the jury and must be unanimous.
First-degree murder is a Class A Felony in South Dakota, punishable by death or life imprisonment. It is the only Class A Felony in the state. It is only punishable by death if it involves any of the following aggravating factors:
- The murder was committed by a person with a prior record of conviction for a Class A or Class B felony, or the offense of murder was committed by a person who has a felony conviction for a crime of violence;
- The defendant by the defendant's act knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person in a public place by means of a weapon or device which would normally be hazardous to the lives of more than one person;
- The murder was committed for the benefit of the defendant or another, for the purpose of receiving money or any other thing of monetary value;
- The murder was committed on a judicial officer, former judicial officer, prosecutor, or former prosecutor while such prosecutor, former prosecutor, judicial officer, or former judicial officer was engaged in the performance of such person's official duties or where a major part of the motivation for the offense came from the official actions of such judicial officer, former judicial officer, prosecutor, or former prosecutor;
- The defendant caused or directed another to commit murder or committed murder as an agent or employee of another person;
- The murder was outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible, or inhuman in that it involved torture, depravity of mind, or an aggravated battery to the victim. Any murder is wantonly vile, horrible, and inhuman if the victim is less than 13 years of age;
- The murder was committed against a law enforcement officer, employee of a corrections institution, or firefighter while engaged in the performance of such person's official duties;
- The murder was committed by a person in, or who has escaped from, the lawful custody of a law enforcement officer or place of lawful confinement;
- The murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing a lawful arrest or custody in a place of lawful confinement, of the defendant or another;
- The murder was committed in the course of manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing illegal substances.
South Dakota executed four men between 1877 and its admission to the union in 1889, and 10 men between that time and the abolition of South Dakota's death penalty in 1915. Each of these death sentences were carried out by hanging. The death penalty was reinstated in 1939 and electric chair became the sole method. George Sitts was the only person electrocuted in South Dakota. There were speculations that his 1947 execution was in an electric chair borrowed from Nebraska due to problems with South Dakota own chair. South Dakota was the second-to-last state to use electrocution, and Sitts' execution was South Dakota's last until after Furman.
On January 1, 1979, Governor Bill Janklow signed South Dakota's post-Furman death penalty statute. It was the first act he signed as governor. All subsequent executions have been by lethal injection.
- List of individuals executed in South Dakota
- List of death row inmates in South Dakota
- Crime in South Dakota
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
- "23A-27A-4. Aggravating circumstance and recommendation of death penalty required for Class A felony death sentencing--Life imprisonment--Bench trial or guilty plea". sdlegislature.gov. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
- "§ 3. Powers and duties of the Governor". sdlegislature.gov. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-26. Retrieved 2015-03-17.
- "Methods of Execution | Death Penalty Information Center". Deathpenaltyinfo.org. Retrieved 2016-07-21.
- South Dakota Codified Laws § 23A-27A-1
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-04-07. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-04-12. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-05-23. Retrieved 2015-06-15.