CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS FEBRUARY 12, 2018
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT BROWN
COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA, THE HONORABLE RICHARD A. SOMMERS Judge.
J. JACKLEY Attorney General PATRICIA ARCHER Assistant
Attorney General Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff
J. COGLEY of Ronayne & Cogley, P.C. Aberdeen, South
Dakota CHRISTOPHER D. DOHRER Aberdeen, South Dakota Attorneys
for defendant and appellant.
Bradley Quist appeals from a final judgment of conviction for
second-degree murder. He argues the circuit court erred in:
(1) failing to dismiss the indictment; (2) denying his motion
for judgment of acquittal; and (3) admitting autopsy
photographs into evidence. We affirm.
and Procedural History
On the night of May 30, 2015, Quist was drinking with his
self-described best friend, Ron Witchey, at a bar in
Aberdeen. Quist was 55 and Witchey was 61 years of age. Both
men consumed several drinks, and although Quist paid for many
of them, Witchey ran out of money and asked Quist for a loan.
Quist was frustrated with Witchey's failure to repay a
prior loan, and Witchey's additional request angered
Quist and resulted in an argument.
At some point during the evening, Quist indicated he was
going to assault Witchey. This led Witchey to ask two other
men for help in the event that Quist tried to start a fight.
Those men, however, left the bar around 12:41 a.m. on May 31,
leaving Quist and Witchey behind.
The actual incident occurred approximately 30 minutes later
and was recorded by surveillance video. The video showed that
at 1:12 a.m., Quist left the bar to smoke a cigarette.
Approximately two minutes later, Witchey came out, passed in
front of Quist, and started walking down the sidewalk away
from Quist and the bar. While Witchey's back was turned,
Quist jogged up behind him and struck him with enough force
to dislodge Witchey's hat. Witchey turned and Quist
struck him again, knocking him to the ground. While Witchey
was lying on his side, Quist kicked Witchey in the head.
Quist then leaned towards Witchey's face, and as Witchey
raised his arm in either a plea to stop or to protect
himself, Quist kicked Witchey in the face again. After
shaking his finger at Witchey, Quist then punched Witchey in
the face, a blow that rendered his body limp and motionless.
Before walking away, Quist lingered around Witchey's body
and kicked him in the buttocks three more times.
Law enforcement arrived, and bar employees identified Quist
as the assailant. When questioned by police, Quist admitted
he had been frustrated with Witchey's failure to repay
loans. In Quist's words, he was "tired of [Witchey]
taking advantage of [him]." However, Quist downplayed
the number of times he struck Witchey and the force he used.
He also claimed he had acted in self-defense but admitted
"[he] did quite a bit more damage than [he] intended to
do." Quist finally claimed that Witchey had "played
possum" in the incident, and Quist denied striking
Witchey when he was on the ground. Inconsistently, however,
Quist admitted "[he] mighta given a 50 percent kick,
once." Later, Quist also told an acquaintance that he
used much more force than he had disclosed to police. He told
the acquaintance he had "kicked [Witchey] in the head
like he was lining up a field goal, and as hard as he could
Witchey died on May 31, 2015, and an autopsy was performed
that same day in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Dr. Mark Koponen,
a forensic pathologist, observed bruising, abrasions, and
lacerations on Witchey's face. Dr. Koponen determined
that the cause of death was a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage
caused by a laceration of the vertebral artery. Dr. Koponen
testified that this type of injury was classically caused by
a blow to the chin or face where the head snaps back
abruptly. Quist's forensic pathologist agreed with Dr.
Koponen's opinions as to the cause of death.
Witchey's body was returned to the Brown County Coroner
in Aberdeen on the day of the autopsy. The coroner then
released the body to Witchey's family, and they had it
cremated shortly thereafter.
Quist was arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter
the day after Witchey's death. In a superseding
indictment, a grand jury charged Quist with second-degree
murder. The jury found Quist guilty, and he now appeals
raising three issues:
1. Whether the circuit court erred in denying his motion to
dismiss the indictment on the ground that he was not given
notice of the coroner's release of the body, which
deprived him of the ...