A Rapid City man set for a murder trial in two weeks is preparing for a defense that he acted in self-defense.

Nathan Chase, 26, is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of 30-year-old Jeremy Little at a Rapid City motel in January. Police said Little was found dead in a room at the South Dakota Rose Inn and bore multiple stab wounds.

Chase, who maintains his innocence, is set for a four-day Pennington County trial to begin Oct. 23.

At a hearing Tuesday, defense attorney Ellery Grey discussed his request to include hearsay at trial, saying it supported his client’s self-defense argument.

On the night of Little’s death, Grey said, Little's mother made a 911 call to express her concerns over his well-being. She supposedly described him as ornery, belligerent, violent and intoxicated.

The lawyer said she reported that Little “had a jug of alcohol with him.”

These details offer an insight into Little’s “frame of mind” that night, which jurors need to hear, Grey told 7th Circuit Judge Matt Brown.

But there’s a problem: Little’s mother has died and obviously cannot be called to testify.

Grey suggested bringing to the stand a law enforcement officer who responded to the mother’s 911 call. Or he could also call as a witness an officer who informed Little’s mother of his death and who apparently heard her relate it to her 911 call.

Grey said also that he might play the 911 recording for the jurors.

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The prosecutor, county Deputy State’s Attorney Josh Hendrickson, told the Journal he would study the hearsay request and present his response at a hearing on Tuesday. Brown said he would issue a ruling on this, and another pretrial matter, at the hearing.

Brown also talked about ways to limit the jury selection to one day. The Brian Duncan murder trial, which Brown presided over in September, took 2 1/2 days to seat a jury.

Chase is detained at the county jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. If convicted, he faces a mandatory life sentence.

Little’s death is the third of seven homicides in Rapid City this year, after just two in 2016. 

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