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Attorney General Marty Jackley

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South Dakota Supreme Court Upholds McCahren Convictions

South Dakota Supreme Court Upholds McCahren Convictions


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:    Thursday, April 21, 2016  
CONTACT:  Sara Rabern (605)773-3215  

South Dakota Supreme Court Upholds McCahren Convictions

PIERRE, S.D.-   Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the second-degree murder and aggravated assault convictions of Braiden McCahren.  A Tripp County jury convicted McCahren of second-degree murder for the shooting death of Dalton Williams, as well as aggravated assault committed against Tyus Youngberg.  McCahren was sentenced to 25 years in the state penitentiary, with 15 years suspended, for the murder conviction.  He received a 15-year penitentiary sentence for the aggravated assault conviction, which is being served at the same time as the sentence for murder.

“The South Dakota Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the jury’s guilty verdict in this tragic case. I want to thank prosecutors Michael Moore and Wendy Kloeppner, the investigators and assistant Attorneys General for their work on this difficult case, “ stated Jackley.

McCahren filed an appeal and in its decision the Supreme Court ruled against McCahren on all of his issues.  The Court found that based on the evidence at trial, the trial judge’s jury instruction on second-degree murder was proper.  The Court also held McCahren had sufficient notice that the jury could consider second-degree murder as an option during its deliberations. 

The Court ruled that the testimony of a State’s witness who roomed with McCahren in a juvenile facility was properly admitted.  That witness testified at trial regarding McCahren’s statements about details of the shooting.  The Court found McCahren was not denied his right to cross-examine the witness.

In addition, the Court ruled the statements McCahren made to law enforcement immediately after the shooting were properly admitted at trial.  McCahren was not in custody at the time he made the statements and therefore his constitutional rights were not violated.  Finally, the Court determined McCahren’s sentence was not excessive.

In December 2012, McCahren shot Williams at the McCahren home in Pierre. This occurred after McCahren grabbed a shotgun, shouldered it and pointed it in the direction of Williams and Youngberg, and pulled the trigger more than once.  McCahren stated he did this to scare Youngberg.  At trial Youngberg testified that McCahren loaded the gun before pulling the trigger.  The last time McCahren pulled the trigger, the shotgun fired. The shot missed Youngberg but struck Williams, killing him.  At trial, the jury rejected McCahren’s argument that the shooting was accidental and convicted him of second-degree murder, which is murder committed with a depraved mind without regard for human life.