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Attorney General Marty Jackley

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:    Friday, July 26, 2019

CONTACT:  Tim Bormann (605) 773-3215

PIERRE, S.D. –  Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg announced today that 54 year old Ervin Morris Cook, Jr., was sentenced to 60 years in the South Dakota State Penitentiary at the Yankton County Courthouse in Yankton, South Dakota. 

Cook entered a guilty plea to Kidnapping in the First Degree stemming from an incident on August 4, 2018.  Cook was already a prisoner at the South Dakota State Penitentiary when he walked away from the Yankton Minimum Unit and subsequently forced Jeanette Leeper to leave her place of employment at the Human Services Center Campus and then held her for a substantial period of time.

Kidnapping in the First Degree is a Class C Felony.  It carries a penalty of up to life imprisonment in the South Dakota State Penitentiary.  In addition, a fine of fifty thousand dollars may be imposed.

Cook received a sentence of 60 years in the South Dakota State Penitentiary, with 20 of those years suspended.  The sentence will be consecutive to the current sentence Cook is already serving.

Cook is already being held in the Jameson Annex at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls and appeared via video conferencing at his sentencing hearing from that facility.

If you escape, we will find you. If you commit other crimes after you have escaped, we will find you. And we will prosecute you vigorously,” said Ravnsborg. “I am glad we were able to obtain justice for Ms. Leeper after this terrifying ordeal.”

This case was investigated by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, along with the Yankton County Sheriff’s Office, the Roberts County Sheriff’s Office, and Sisseton Wahpeton Tribal Police.  The case was prosecuted by the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office.