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Attorney General Jackley Announces Closure To 1998 Murder Conviction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, Oct. 18, 2023

Contact: Tony Mangan, Communications Director, 605-773-6878

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley is praising a South Dakota Supreme Court decision that denied a state prison inmate’s appeal of a second habeas corpus request related to his 1998 conviction for murder.

The court’s ruling, issued Thursday, determined that David Lee had no right to further appeal an earlier habeas corpus order in the same case. The Attorney General’s Office represented the state in the initial criminal case and the appeals.

Lee was serving a 50-year sentence in the South Dakota State Penitentiary for robbery, assault, and escape when he was convicted in 1998 of second-degree murder of his cellmate, Robert Stacy Walth. Lee was sentenced to life in prison by a Minnehaha County Circuit Court judge.

The State Supreme Court upheld Lee’s murder conviction in 1999. Lee then sought additional review of his case by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. That petition was denied in 2003.

Lee then filed additional petitions for writ of habeas corpus in 2004 and 2007. Those cases were pending until this Supreme Court ruling.

“Twenty-five years of litigation is too long for a victim’s family and those involved in the litigation,” said Attorney General Jackley.  “Thank you to the court system, prosecutors and investigators that worked on this case for more than two decades.”

The Supreme Court ruling can be found here: https://ujs.sd.gov/uploads/sc/opinions/29744cd88951.pdf.

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