CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON NOVEMBER 12, 2018
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT DAY
COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE JON S. FLEMMER Judge
L. SANNES of Delaney, Nielsen & Sannes, P.C. Webster,
South Dakota CHRISTOPHER D. DOHRER Aberdeen, South Dakota
Attorneys for defendant and appellant.
J. JACKLEY Attorney General MIKAL G. HANSON PAUL S. SWEDLUND
Assistant Attorney General Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for
plaintiff and appellee.
Jason Lewandowski was convicted of first degree felony
murder, commission of a felony while armed with a firearm,
and burglary in the first degree stemming from the shooting
death of Jeremy Hendrickson (Jeremy). Lewandowski appeals,
arguing the circuit court should have suppressed his
statements to law enforcement during a custodial
interrogation on the night of the shooting because those
statements were obtained in violation of his Fifth Amendment
right to counsel and his right against self-incrimination.
Lewandowski also claims the circuit court erred by refusing
to compel specific performance of a plea agreement that he
alleges would have allowed him to plead guilty to
manslaughter. We affirm.
and Procedural History
Lewandowski lived on a farm in Day County and had joint
custody of his son, S.L., following Lewandowski's
divorce. Jon and Judy Hendrickson were Lewandowski's
neighbors. Lewandowski considered Jon a good friend and had a
friendly relationship with Jon's son Jeremy.
Jon passed away in 2011. After Jon died, Lewandowski began an
intimate relationship with Judy that strained his
relationship with Jeremy. On July 21, 2012, this strain led
to a physical altercation in which Lewandowski claimed he was
assaulted by Jeremy and two of his friends. The Day County
Sheriff's office and the South Dakota Division of
Criminal Investigation (DCI) investigated the incident. DCI
agent Stanley Lunzman was involved in the investigation and
established a friendly professional relationship with
Lewandowski as a result. Jeremy eventually pleaded no contest
to a charge of disorderly conduct for his involvement in the
July 21 incident. Lewandowski claimed he suffered continual
pain and disability from injuries sustained in the incident
and held a grudge against Jeremy.
On November 20, 2015, Lewandowski claims he aggravated his
injuries when he tripped and fell in a ditch after deer
hunting. Lewandowski returned to his Datsun pickup and
stopped at a bar in Pierpont to, as he claims, self-medicate
his pain with alcohol. Lewandowski told law enforcement he
sat at the end of the bar to help support his back and knee
and had two drinks. At trial, the State disputed
Lewandowski's version of these events and presented video
evidence showing Lewandowski walking around the bar speaking
with patrons and consuming at least four drinks. According to
the State, Lewandowski never mentioned his fall or pain to
anyone in the bar.
When Lewandowski returned home, he began conversing with S.L.
and S.L.'s friend. The conversation turned into a heated
argument, culminating in Lewandowski picking up a television
and throwing it against the wall. Lewandowski then drove away
from the home, now driving his Ram pickup truck, where he
kept a .22 caliber Luger pistol in the glove box.
Lewandowski drove to Jeremy's home, arriving around 9:30
p.m. Jeremy's wife, Leslie, testified that she and Jeremy
heard a vehicle drive into the yard of their rural home, but
were unable to identify who had entered the property. Jeremy
and Leslie were in the bedroom with their two children when
they heard the backdoor to the house slam open. Lewandowski
then charged into the bedroom. Lewandowski admitted at trial
that he entered the bedroom and confronted Jeremy asking him,
"why they did what they did" and "why Jeremy
had anger toward him[, ]" and then shot Jeremy in the
head. Leslie testified that Lewandowski stormed into the
house, said, "I'm sick of this shit you mother
fucker," put his .22 caliber pistol to Jeremy's head
and shot him. After the shooting, Lewandowski ran out of the
house and drove to his home.
Jeremy was transported to a local hospital and then flown to
a hospital in Fargo for advanced medical treatment. Jeremy
was placed on artificial life support because of severe brain
damage from the bullet. Jeremy never regained consciousness.
He was taken off life support on December 9, 2015, and died
the same day.
When Lewandowski returned home, he told S.L., "I just
killed Jeremy." S.L. testified that Lewandowski told him
to take the Ram pickup and drive to S.L.'s mother's
home in Langford. Later that night, S.L. was questioned by
law enforcement and it was discovered that Lewandowski's
.22 Luger pistol was missing from the console of the Ram
Lewandowski left his home and arrived at his brother's
home in Groton around 10:00 p.m. Lewandowski's brother
was not home, but Lewandowski's sister-in-law and niece
were home. Lewandowski told his sister-in-law that he had
"killed the mother fucker that ruined [his] life,"
and that they were probably never going to see him again.
Lewandowski's brother learned what had occurred and
called law enforcement.
Lewandowski left his brother's home and was spotted by
law enforcement driving toward Aberdeen. Lewandowski refused
to pull over for law enforcement leading to a high-speed
chase. Lewandowski reached Aberdeen and exited his vehicle at
a hospital, but failed to follow the directives of law
enforcement. Lewandowski was eventually subdued by law
enforcement after being Tasered twice.
Lewandowski was placed into custody and taken into the
hospital where his Taser injuries were treated and
photographed. Lewandowski's blood alcohol level was
tested and revealed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .164.
Agent Lunzman arrived at the hospital to question
Lewandowski. While Lunzman was waiting for the hospital room
to clear and before advising Lewandowski of his
Miranda rights, Lunzman began making some general
comments to Lewandowski, explaining he wanted to talk to him
in a few minutes. Lewandowski made several statements during
this time, such as "I'm sorry, sorry man,"
"I done a bad thing," and "I fucked up."
After the room was cleared, Lunzman read Lewandowski his
Miranda rights and Lewandowski acknowledged that he
understood his rights. Lunzman then began asking Lewandowski
questions about the shooting. Lunzman was aware of
Lewandowski's BAC level during the questioning.
After Lewandowski was treated and examined at the hospital,
he was transported to the Brown County jail. Lunzman traveled
to the jail to continue the interrogation. At the jail,
Lunzman again administered Miranda rights, and
Lewandowski stated he understood the rights. The following
exchange then occurred:
Lewandowski: Now I'm gonna ask a stupid
question. Lunzman: There's no such thing
as a stupid question Jason. Lewandowski:
What, worthless ...