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Native Sun News: Judge dismisses charges in fatal horse shooting

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Horse killing case dismissed: Prosecutors drop ball
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

LAKE ANDES — In a highly charged and well publicized case involving the shooting of horses owned by a Native American family, charges against the accused were dismissed last week by a judge in Lake Andes.

Raymond Johanneson, 60, was accused of shooting 5 horses owned by Lori Abdo-Smith and Charlie Smith enrolled members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Johanneson admitted shooting at the horses; however a failure by the prosecution to file the appropriate paper work left a statutory loophole allowing for the case to be dismissed.

Johanneson was set to face five misdemeanor charges in a trial set for April, but this past week all charges were dismissed by Judge Gordon Swanson as a result of the prosecution failing to provide a list of witnesses as required by State law. Swanson also ordered that any payments on the $1,000 bond levied against Johanneson be returned.

The case took on a racial undertone after inflammatory comments were made by Johansson and his attorney Timothy Whalen to the media. The area had already experienced some racial tension over attempts by the county to infringe upon tribal sovereignty in the past. Charles-Mix county attorneys, where the case is located, once attempted to disestablish the Yankton Reservation.

In the early 1990’s the Yankton Sioux Tribe sought to exercise their sovereignty and block the creation of a solid waste dump near Lake Andes. The State of South Dakota and Charles Mix County fought the tribe’s attempt to halt the construction citing that the Yankton Sioux Reservation did not have established boundaries due to it being disestablished. In this landmark case attorneys for the State and Charles Mix County lost.

Attempts by Native Sun News to speak with prosecutors were unsuccessful.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at Copyright permission Native Sun News

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