State v. Lyerla

424 N.W.2d 908 (1988)

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State v. Lyerla

South Dakota Supreme Court
424 N.W.2d 908 (1988)

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Facts

Gerald Lyerla (defendant) was driving down the highway one night near 17-year-old Tammy Jensen. Jensen was in a pickup truck with two other teenage girls. Lyerla and Jensen passed each other a few times. Once, when Lyerla tried to pass the girls, their truck accelerated so he could not overtake them. After that, Lyerla got off the highway. At the same time, Jensen pulled over to the side of the road near the entry ramp. Lyerla loaded his pistol, got back on the highway, and passed Jensen’s truck. When Jensen tried to pass Lyerla again, he shot at the truck’s passenger side three times. One bullet killed Jensen, one lodged in the engine block, and the third was never found. The other two girls were injured but survived. Lyerla was arrested and tried for several crimes. Lyerla’s defense was that the girls had hassled him so much that he feared for his life. Lyerla claimed that he had fired at the truck only to disable it and did not intend to hurt anyone. Lyerla was convicted of second-degree murder for Jensen’s death. Second-degree murder meant that Lyerla had acted recklessly, with depraved indifference to human life, resulting in death. Lyerla was also convicted of two counts of attempted second-degree murder with respect to the other two girls. Lyerla appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Konenkamp, J.)

Dissent (Sabers, J.)

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