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Vincent Brewer III, 29, was shot to death the afternoon of Oct. 16 in the parking lot of a youth center on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Journal file

A man shot to death outside a youth center on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation last year is alleged to have been killed over a drug debt.

The statement was made by a federal magistrate judge on Monday during a hearing for Myles Tuttle, 24, charged in the death of Vincent Brewer III with first-degree murder and accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

Tuttle, who has been detained at the Pennington County Jail since March, had asked Judge Daneta Wollmann to release him while he was awaiting trial. His lawyer, Terry Pechota, told the court that Tuttle had an “ironclad” alibi: He was in Sioux Falls, visiting relatives, when 29-year-old Brewer was shot on Oct. 16, 2016.

“There’s no way that he would be on Pine Ridge that day,” Pechota said. “The weight of the government’s case is weak and marginal at best.”

Tuttle’s 30-year-old sister, Maria Tuttle, testified that she had traveled with him and other relatives from her home in Rapid City to Sioux Falls on Oct. 15, 2016. The following day, she said, Tuttle had been at their brother’s home in Sioux Falls the whole time.

She and several others had submitted sworn statements to establish Tuttle’s alibi. Maria Tuttle agreed to take responsibility for her brother should the court order him released to a third party.

The prosecutor, however, objected to Tuttle’s request for release. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rich said some of the people who backed up his alibi, when interviewed by police, said they couldn’t remember exactly when Tuttle was in Sioux Falls.

“She’s not a reliable witness,” Rich said. “These are not ironclad statements.”

Maria Tuttle admitted speaking to the others but denied Rich’s claim that she had coached them on what to say. She said also she believed Brewer’s killing involved a Mexican cartel but said her brother had no involvement with Mexicans.

At least two witnesses, the prosecutor said, had placed Tuttle at the scene of Brewer’s killing.

Pine Ridge’s Oglala Sioux tribal authorities earlier said Brewer, known as Vinny, was shot by several people in broad daylight in the parking lot of the SuAnne Big Crow Youth Development Center. They said he had just finished participating in a basketball tournament.

Last month, a Pine Ridge woman also charged in Brewer’s murder pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact.

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Tiffanee Garnier, 31, admitted driving to the youth center with at least six other people, some of whom were looking for Brewer. They found him in the parking lot, and Brewer seemed to know the reason they were there, she said in a written statement.

“Multiple people exited the two vehicles holding firearms, and several of them were wearing masks,” the statement reads. “After a brief physical assault, several people shot Vinny Brewer multiple times. Brewer died immediately from his gunshot injuries.” None of the assailants were named, or the reason for the attack.

At the end of the 1-1/2 hour hearing Monday, Judge Wollmann ruled to keep Tuttle in jail. She cited various reasons, including the very violent nature of the accusations against him. His charge of first-degree murder, a premeditated offense, was being linked to an “alleged collection of a drug debt,” Wollmann said.

Tuttle's charging document states he fatally shot Brewer and "did aid and abet others in doing so." First-degree murder is punishable by up to life in prison. It says Tuttle also assisted multiple individuals involved in the murder — known and unknown to the grand jury — in evading authorities.

Wollmann said she didn’t give weight to the affidavits in support of Tuttle’s alibi since they were mostly from family members and their accuracy was questionable. A video showing him in the Sioux Falls area would present stronger evidence that he was not on Pine Ridge that day, she said.

But the judge reminded Tuttle he will have a chance to present his side to a jury, which will determine the facts of the case. His trial has so far been scheduled for January.

Contact Tiffany Tan at tiffany.tan@rapidcityjournal.com.

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Rapid City Journal