skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Conservationists tout Indiana's old mines and brownfields to develop renewable energy; Louisiana becomes 1st state to require the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools; Black Hills Visitor Center under new joint tribal, federal oversight; Judge set to rule on massive MT logging project.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Former President Donald Trump says he loves Milwaukee, civil rights groups reject designated protest zones for the RNC convention and a New York Equal Rights Amendment is restored to the November ballot.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town, prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands and a Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival.

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

more stories
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reported power plant pollution exacerbates asthma, creates new asthma cases, causes heart attacks and is the largest airborne emission of mercury. (TomKonrad/Wikimedia Commons)

play sound

Danskammer Energy is no longer seeking an expansion of its Newburgh plant. The original plan called for expanding the company's "peaker plant" meant …


Social Issues

play sound

The Black Hills National Forest is one of the latest federal lands to enter a co-stewardship agreement with local tribal nations-a management model en…

Social Issues

play sound

It is the first day of summer and time for a global event called the "World's Largest Swimming Lesson." Albuquerque's West Mesa Aquatic Center will o…


A majority of board members of the newly merged Clinica Family Health and Wellness will continue to be patients who receive services, working alongside community volunteers. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

play sound

Clinica Family Health and Mental Health Partners have announced plans to merge operations by September of this year. Mental Health Partners co-CEO …

Environment

play sound

Today is the summer solstice, the day of the year with the most sunshine, and Indiana conservationists said they have a plan to make the best use of …

In 2023, Arkansas' Farm to School Kitchen Equipment Grant Program increased the capacity to process and serve more specialty crops to students through the school cafeteria. (Cheangchai/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

School children in Arkansas are learning how to grow their own fruits and vegetables through the Farm to School and Early Childhood Education program …

Environment

play sound

A Michigan nonprofit dedicated to keeping oil out of the Great Lakes is celebrating a major victory. A federal Appellate Court has ruled that …

Social Issues

play sound

On the heels of its primary election, North Dakota has received a "fair" grade in an annual report examining voting laws for each state. The …

 

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