on Briefs January 11, 2016
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
MINNEHAHA COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA. THE HONORABLE BRADLEY G.
J. JACKLEY, Attorney General, JARED TIDEMANN. Assistant
Attorney General. Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for
plaintiff and appellee.
J. LAUGHLIN, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Attorney for
defendant and appellant.
Chief Justice. ZINTER, SEVERSON, WILBUR, and KERN, Justices,
GILBERTSON, Chief Justice
[¶1] Kevin James Rice appeals the circuit
court's imposition of an 80-year sentence for one count
of first-degree manslaughter. Rice asserts his sentence
violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel
and unusual punishment. We affirm.
and Procedural History
[¶2] On December 2, 2013, Sioux Falls
resident Jason LaBeau returned home after work to discover
two intruders in his home attacking his 20-year-old son,
Jordan. After Jason rushed to Jordan's aid, one of the
intruders produced a pistol and shot both Jason and Jordan.
After the shooting, the intruders fled the scene, leaving
behind the pistol and one of their cell phones. Jason
summoned help, but Jordan died before emergency assistance
arrived. Jason survived his injuries.
[¶3] Law enforcement's investigation
revealed a plot conceived by Jordan's girlfriend, Faith
Rasmussen, and orchestrated by Rice to steal $100,000 in cash
from Jordan. Rasmussen ran a drug-distribution operation in
Sioux Falls. She and Rice became acquainted with one another
in the course of Rice's work for her as a distributor. In
the fall of 2013, Rasmussen told Rice that Jordan kept
$100,000 in a shoebox under his bed. She showed Rice a
picture as proof and gave him Jason's work schedule.
Rasmussen's ex-boyfriend, Austin Hogan, drove Rice to,
and identified, Jordan's home.
[¶4] Rice began recruiting help. He first
contacted his long-time friend, Doug Scholten. Rice then
contacted Brian Anderson, an 18-year-old senior from
Watertown High School who had been selling marijuana for
Rice. Rice told Anderson that Jordan had previously been
robbed without putting up a fight, that Jordan would likely
be under the influence when they entered the house, and that
Jason would not be home until after 5:00 p.m. Anderson agreed
to the plan and in turn, recruited his friend, Trevor
Kruthoff, a 17-year-old high school student from Watertown.
[¶5] Shortly before December 2, Anderson and
Kruthoff drove to Sioux Falls from Watertown. After meeting
Rice, the three of them drove to the LaBeau residence. The
three agreed that Anderson and Kruthoff would carry out the
plan. The two would-be intruders plotted their point of entry
and then returned to Watertown. On December 2, Anderson and
Kruthoff called Rice to tell him they intended to carry out
the plan that day. The two skipped school; packed duct tape,
gloves, and handcuffs; left Watertown; and joined Rice and
Scholten at Rice's residence. While there, Rice handed a
pistol to Scholten, who loaded the weapon with ammunition.
Rice then handed the weapon to Anderson.
[¶6] Armed with a loaded firearm and a
hammer, the four left Rice's residence in two different
vehicles. Rice and Scholten drove one car; Anderson and
Kruthoff, the other. Upon arriving at Jordan's house,
the four noticed that his vehicle was there. Although Rice
noted that the presence of Jordan's vehicle indicated
Jordan was likely home, Anderson and Kruthoff decided to
proceed as planned. Rice and Scholten drove to a nearby
convenience store and waited for Anderson and Kruthoff to
[¶7] Anderson and Kruthoff entered the home
through a basement window and were almost immediately
confronted by Jordan. Anderson and Kruthoff attempted to
restrain Jordan. Despite the information Rice had received
from Rasmussen, Jason returned home from work at 2:15 p.m.
Jason struck Anderson, and Kruthoff drew the pistol. Anderson
commanded Kruthoff to fire the weapon, and Kruthoff complied,
firing multiple shots at--and striking--Jason. Kruthoff then
turned the weapon on Jordan, shooting him as well.
[¶8] Anderson and Kruthoff fled the scene,
leaving behind the pistol and Kruthoff's cell phone. The
pair did not locate the $100,000. Rice and Scholten saw
Anderson and Kruthoff's vehicle speed past the
convenience store. Anderson sent a text message to Rice
indicating there was a problem, and the four met back at
Rice's residence. Rice and Scholten provided clean
clothing to Anderson and Kruthoff. Rice and Scholten then
destroyed Anderson's phone, disposed of as much evidence
as they could, and fled to Madison for the night. Anderson
and Kruthoff returned to Watertown.
[¶9] Rice, Scholten, Anderson, and Kruthoff
were all arrested and charged with homicide. All four
subsequently pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter.
Anderson and Kruthoff also pleaded guilty to aggravated
assault. Rice was sentenced to 80 years imprisonment with 20
years suspended. Scholten was sentenced to 30 years
imprisonment with all 30 years suspended. Anderson was
sentenced to 80 years imprisonment with 30 years suspended
for manslaughter. He also received a suspended, concurrent,
15-year sentence for aggravated assault. Kruthoff was