Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Lewandowski

Supreme Court of South Dakota

January 2, 2019

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
JASON PAUL LEWANDOWSKI, Defendant and Appellant.



          THOMAS L. SANNES of Delaney, Nielsen & Sannes, P.C. Webster, South Dakota CHRISTOPHER D. DOHRER Aberdeen, South Dakota Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

          MARTY J. JACKLEY Attorney General MIKAL G. HANSON PAUL S. SWEDLUND Assistant Attorney General Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.


         [¶1.] 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.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2.] 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.

         [¶3.] 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.

         [¶4.] 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.

         [¶5.] 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.

         [¶6.] 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.

         [¶7.] 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.

         [¶8.] 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 pickup.

         [¶9.] 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.

         [¶10.] 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.

         [¶11.] 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.

         [¶12.] 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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.