The defendants in a Rapid City murder case are asking the court to throw out evidence gathered after their arrest, saying they were illegally apprehended on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Maricelo Garcia, 21, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of fellow Rapid City man Clinton Farlee, 20, following an argument at Farlee’s home in October. Authorities said Garcia had then been accompanied by Cierra Walks, 19, who is accused of being an accessory to a crime.
Rapid City police said the duo left the shooting scene, in the 600 block of East Boulevard North, in an SUV driven by Walks. And they were found two days later “hiding in the rugged terrain” of the Pine Ridge reservation.
Garcia’s lawyers believe the arrest was illegal because it was done within Indian Country based on a state warrant. They’re asking the trial court not to admit any evidence obtained after the arrest, including statements Garcia made to investigators, describing them as “fruit of an illegal arrest.”
South Dakota does not have jurisdiction over Indian Country, defense attorneys Matthew Rappold and Mathew Laidlaw said in a February court filing. They added that “the defense is aware of no authority which would have lawfully permitted law enforcement to act outside of its territorial jurisdiction to effectuate an arrest in Oglala Lakota County or to act within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.”
Walks, of Rapid City, echoes the same argument in her own court request to throw out all evidence gathered after her arrest.
Pennington County prosecutors responded by saying that Garcia and Walks were arrested through the authority of the Black Hills Fugitive Task Force, a multi-agency team coordinated by the U.S. Marshals Service and whose mission is to apprehend people wanted by local, state or federal law enforcement agencies.
The Marshals Service and local law enforcement agents it deputizes have authority under federal law to “pursue fugitives wanted under state felony warrants whenever such action is undertaken pursuant to an apprehension program approved by the Attorney General or their designee,” Deputy State’s Attorney Heather Sazama wrote in an April filing.
But Garcia’s lawyers say the U.S. Marshals’ authority in executing state laws is limited to the power of the sheriff, and in this murder case was that of Pennington County.
Both sides are scheduled to present arguments on the issue on June 5 and 6 before Judge Jane Wipf Pfeifle, of the 7th Circuit Court. A similar hearing before Circuit Judge Roberty Gusinsky is set in Walks’ case for July. The two Pennington County hearings might be consolidated for efficiency.
Garcia’s murder charge carries a maximum penalty of death or mandatory life in prison. Walks’ charge is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Garcia is detained at the county jail, whereas Walks was released in April on a $25,000 bond.