ON OCTOBER 3, 2018
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT LINCOLN
COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE DOUGLAS E. HOFFMAN JUDGE
A. STUART Peterson, Stuart, Rumpca & Rasmussen, Prof. LLC
Attorneys for defendant Beresford, South Dakota and
J. JACKLEY Attorney General
PATRICIA ARCHER Assistant Attorney General Attorneys for
plaintiff Pierre, South Dakota and appellee.
Antonio Ledbetter appeals from three consecutive fifteen-year
sentences handed down by the circuit court after Ledbetter
pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault.
Ledbetter claims that the circuit court erred by failing to
follow the terms of a plea agreement that limited the maximum
prison term on each count of aggravated assault to ten years.
Because the plea agreement was not binding on the circuit
court, we affirm the sentences.
and Procedural History
In the fall of 2016, Sara Inboden broke off a romantic
relationship with Ledbetter. However, Inboden maintained
contact with Ledbetter because she had become pregnant with
On October 11, 2016, Ledbetter insisted on visiting Inboden.
Inboden hesitantly agreed. After arriving at Inboden's
apartment, Ledbetter demanded to be involved in her evening
plans. When Inboden refused, he punched her in the face.
Ledbetter continued to strike Inboden and slammed her head
onto the floor, knocking her unconscious. While unconscious,
Ledbetter cut off Inboden's nipple on her right breast
with a pair of scissors. After Inboden regained
consciousness, Ledbetter attacked her again, cutting off the
nipple on her left breast and choking her until she passed
out a second time. Inboden regained consciousness and escaped
the apartment. Inboden suffered multiple injuries from the
attack and required reconstructive surgery to repair the
disfiguring injuries to her breasts.
Ledbetter was indicted on one count of aggravated kidnapping
and eight counts of aggravated assault. The court appointed
counsel to represent Ledbetter and he pleaded not guilty to
all charges. A jury trial was scheduled for January 31, 2017.
After issues developed in the attorney-client relationship
between Ledbetter and his court-appointed counsel, the
circuit court appointed co-counsel to assist in
Ledbetter's defense. The start of trial was delayed to
August 29, 2017 on Ledbetter's motion.
On August 14, 2017, Ledbetter's counsel emailed the
circuit court requesting an informal meeting to discuss a
plea agreement negotiated between the parties. Defense
counsel's stated purpose for the meeting was to determine
if the plea agreement would be acceptable to the court. The
meeting with the court took place the next day in chambers
with the prosecuting attorney and defense counsel. The
meeting occurred off the record, but Ledbetter claims that
the terms of the plea agreement were explained and the court
orally stated the plea agreement was acceptable. Following
the meeting, Ledbetter's attorney drafted a written
Petition to Plead Guilty and Statement of Factual Basis
(Petition), which included the terms of the plea agreement.
Ledbetter signed the Petition on August 16, 2017.
Two days later Ledbetter appeared at a change of plea
hearing. The Petition was presented to the circuit court and
described the plea agreement as follows:
[Ledbetter] has accepted the terms of the plea agreement
negotiated between his attorneys and the State. The terms
of such plea agreement call for a plea of guilty to Counts
[three], [six], and [eight] of the Indictment filed on
October 17, 2016. In return for such pleas of guilty, the
State has agreed to cap its argument for actual
penitentiary time to [thirty] years. However, the State may
request additional suspended prison time in addition to the
[thirty] years actual. Lastly, Defense is not able to argue
for any actual time less than [eighteen] ...