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Attorney General Marty Jackley

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Attorney General Jackley Announces Judge Rejects Habeas Corpus Request on Infant Murder Conviction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 29, 2023

Contact: Tony Mangan, Communications Director, 605-773-6878

PIERRE, S.D.—South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley announces that a Circuit Court Judge has denied a habeas corpus request for Joseph Patterson, who was convicted in 2015 in the death of an infant.

Patterson claimed that he had received ineffective counsel. Circuit Court Judge John Pekas said Patterson did not meet the standard for such a claim.

“This defendant received a fair trial, was provided effective counsel, was convicted by a Lincoln County jury, and that verdict was upheld by the South Dakota Supreme Court,” said Attorney General Jackley.

Patterson was charged in the death of two-year-old Tyrese Ruffin. Patterson was convicted of Second Degree Murder, First Degree Manslaughter and Aggravated Battery of an Infant. He was sentenced to life in prison for the Second Degree Murder charge and 25 years in prison on the Aggravated Battery of an Infant charge.

The defendant in his habeas corpus motion also suggested that new scientific evidence about head trauma in children was not available at the time of the trial but should be considered now. The Judge concluded that there was no new scientific evidence that would have affected the suspect’s innocence.

This case was investigated by South Dakota Attorney General’s Office’s Division of Criminal Investigation and the Sioux Falls Police Department. The case was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office and the Lincoln County State’s Attorney’s Office.

“The Attorney General’s Office, local law enforcement, and local prosecutors continue to be vigilant in dealing with child homicide cases,” said Attorney General Jackley. “We encourage parents and those entrusted with the care of children to report suspicious activity that may be harmful to children and to remember that all children are precious and need to be protected.”