A Pennington County judge ruled Wednesday that the state cannot introduce FBI testimony and a court document dealing with a decade-old manslaughter case in a man’s murder trial. of Rapid City accused of stabbing a man to death in March 2021.
Antoine Bissonette, 40, is facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of Andrew Bear Robe, 44, of Pine Ridge, who was found dead March 23, 2021 in the garage of a block residence 900 North Seventh Street in Rapid City.
The state filed a motion to include a 2012 factual statement that Bissonette signed when he pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for the death of Daniel Bad Milk in Pine Ridge, whom he killed with a baseball bat according to the factual statement. He was originally charged with second degree murder.
The state also intended to include testimony from one of two FBI agents who reported on the case but were not direct witnesses. John Murphy, Bissonette’s defense attorney, said the inclusion of the factual statement could lead to a “mini-trial” over whether Bissonette’s attorney at the time properly informed him of the facts. information contained in the factual statement before he signed it, and the FBI report in question includes Bissonette’s assertion that he acted in self-defense. He said there were “a huge amount of factual problems with how the state wants to portray this.”
The South Dakota Supreme Court did not address the issue of including prior acts through a statement of fact, so the decision was left to Circuit Judge Joshua Hendrickson, who said that he was more in line with the defense’s argument and denied the state’s motion because it would be “opening a Pandora’s box” to include him.
The judge approved two other defense motions during the hearing. The former requested Bear Robe’s medical records from Monument Health Rapid City Hospital for March 2021, the month of his death. Murphy wrote in the motion that his client believes, based on statements by Bear Robe and others, that Bear Robe was involved in physical altercations that resulted in injuries in the days and weeks leading up to his death and sought medical attention for them.
Murphy told the court on Wednesday that without the records, the jury might believe Bissonette is responsible for all of Bear Robe’s injuries and that that might also interfere with Bissonette’s claim of self-defense.
“…evidence that supports his claim that he knew of Bear Robe’s recent aggressive/violent conduct is essential to the presentation of his defense,” the motion states.
The state did not oppose the motion. The judge also granted the defense access to police reports regarding Bear Robe for the three years prior to his death. Murphy wrote that the records may be relevant for Bissonette to prepare for his defense as he may raise an allegation of self-defense and his knowledge of Bear Ridge’s history of violent conduct.
The state asked the court to reduce the three-year scope to one or two years, which the judge refused.
Bissonette is currently being held in Pennington County Jail. He is due in court for a status hearing at 3:15 p.m. on January 23, 2023.
— Contact Shalom Baer Gee at [email protected] —
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. judge decides to exclude case document manslaughter guilty prior the statements FBI trial for murder