skip to main content

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

play newscast audioPlay

Indiana struggles to reverse its high early death rate, a Texas sheriff recommends criminal charges in DeSantis' migrant flights to Martha's Vineyard, and Congress is urged to take swift action to pass the Rail Safety Act of 2023.

play newscast audioPlay

A bipartisan effort aims to preserve AM radio, the Human Rights Campaign declares a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people, and the Atlanta City Council approves funding for a controversial police training center.

play newscast audioPlay

Oregon may expand food stamp eligibility to some undocumented households, rural areas have a new method of accessing money for roads and bridges, and Tennessee's new online tool helps keep track of cemetery locations.

Kahler v. Kansas Death Penalty Case Could Have Ramifications in SD

play audio
Play

Thursday, October 17, 2019   

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling could impact a South Dakota case that shocked the Sioux Falls community in 2016.

This month, the high court justices heard arguments in Kahler v. Kansas, a case that could determine the constitutionality of the insanity defense.

South Dakota lawmakers have considered but rejected legislation to exempt people with mental illness from the death penalty.

Aya Gruber, a professor of criminal law at the University of Colorado, says the Supreme Court has so far relied on a "shock to the conscience" doctrine as grounds for a death sentence.

"Is it possible that a state can go ahead and punish a severely mentally ill person, the same way that they would punish a completely sane person?” Gruber questions. “Or would that be such a grossly disproportionate punishment that it would shock the conscience?"

A Sioux Falls man eligible for the death penalty awaits trial. In 2016, 24-year-old Heath Otto was charged with killing his mother and nephew, and two counts of first-degree murder make him eligible for the death penalty. His defense lawyers later hired experts who diagnosed Otto with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

In the case before the Supreme Court, James Kahler was convicted and the death sentence was recommended for fatally shooting his ex-wife, her mother and his two daughters. He appealed, claiming his constitutional rights were violated by not being allowed to present an insanity defense.

Gruber notes that insanity is argued in very few cases.

"And of those cases, they're very rarely successful,” she states. “So, this is not like a defense that people are using all the time – this is a rarely used, rarely successful defense."

In death penalty cases, South Dakota currently relies on the M'Naghten Rule, meaning the burden of proof for insanity is on the defendant.

Capital punishment cases typically cost 10 times more than a first-degree murder case, or an average of $1 million more per case than life imprisonment.


get more stories like this via email

According to the Mars Veterinary Health study, nearly 41,000 additional veterinarians will be needed to meet the needs of companion animal health care by 2030. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

In Arizona, telemedicine is now not only available for humans but also for people's beloved animals. Last month Governor Katie Hobbs signed Senate …


Environment

play sound

Ruybal Fox Creek Ranch sits in a dramatic canyon in the foothills of southern Colorado's San Juan Mountains, right next to the Rio Grande National …

Health and Wellness

play sound

North Dakota officials are urging people receiving health coverage through a key public program to stay on top of their renewal if they are still elig…


According to the report, there was a 14% increase among Nevada seniors accessing high-speed internet between 2016 and 2021. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

play sound

Nevada has received an overall score of 43 in the nation for the health and well-being of its seniors in the state. According to the United Health …

Social Issues

play sound

A court hearing next week could help determine whether an eastern South Dakota mayor will face a recall election. Events are rare for this state…

A new measure in this year's report shows many older adults spent more than 30% of their income on housing. (Adobe stock)

Social Issues

play sound

Indiana ranks closer to the bottom of U.S. states where you will find healthy seniors living than the top, according to a new report. …

Social Issues

play sound

The last day of school for Texas kids is typically one of elation, but for children in rural areas with high poverty rates, it also can mean …

Environment

play sound

Virginia environmental advocates are not happy with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision on the Clean Water Act. The ruling in Sackett versus E-P-…

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021