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State v. Tuttle

South Dakota Supreme Court
650 N.W.2d 20 (2002)


Shortly after arriving at his grandmother’s mobile home, Thomas John Tuttle (defendant), 18-years-old, and his friend got into a heated argument and shoving match. Several nearby neighbors came out to watch and eventually separate the two. During this time, the police was called to respond to the disturbance. Upon their arrival, the officers observed Tuttle standing near a parked car. After speaking to several people the officers found nothing unusual and prepared to leave. Then, Tuttle’s grandmother approached the officers and asked them to eject some people from within her mobile home. The officers went inside and found the Terrance Yellow Earrings, the boyfriend of Tuttle’s mother, standing by the kitchen sink, bleeding from with multiple stab wounds. Three other individuals were in the trailer at the time: Tuttle’s mother and his two uncles. Yellow Earrings was transported to a hospital and the police took Tuttle and the three individuals inside the mobile home to the station for questioning. Detective Thaddeus Openhowski interrogated Tuttle. During the questioning, Openhowski told Tuttle that his report could be written to make things look good for Tuttle or that “I'm gonna have to write it up that you’re not cooperating, you’re being a real jerk about it.” Tuttle responded by saying, “Ok. I stabbed him. Whatever...” Tuttle was charged with aggravated assault. At trial, Yellow Earrings was the only eyewitness who testified against Tuttle. Tuttle was convicted and he appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Konenkamp, J.)

Dissent (Gilbertson, C.J.)

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