The guilty verdict in Rapid City’s murder trial this week came quickly, like the sole witness’s description of the stabbing that killed a 30-year-old man in January.
Around 6 p.m. Wednesday, an hour after lawyers made their closing arguments, a Pennington County jury said it had reached a verdict in the case against 26-year-old Nathan Chase.
Chase, of Rapid City, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Jeremy Little at the South Dakota Rose Inn on Jan. 23. After the jury forewoman uttered “guilty,” Chase moved his head up and down, as if nodding.
Chase faces mandatory life in prison at his sentencing before 7th Circuit Judge Matt Brown. The sentencing date has not been determined.
The verdict came on the third day of trial, in which the prosecution said Chase stabbed Little with a folding knife that was later found on him.
The killing happened in a room at the motel after Chase got into an argument with Little over a phone and charger, said the only known witness to the attack. Little suffered stab wounds to the face and neck, and died at the scene, after he reportedly shoved Chase backward.
Chase claimed he acted in self-defense. Among the evidence he presented was a 911 call that Little’s mother made several minutes before the incident, in which she requested a welfare check on her son whom she reported as drunk and acting mean.
The prosecutor, Deputy State’s Attorney Josh Hendrickson, said self-defense didn’t apply in the case. And even if it did, stabbing Little in retaliation for a push was excessive force.
“The jury got it right,” Hendrickson said in an interview after the verdict was pronounced. “It was a long case, but I think that justice is done.”
Chase’s lawyer, Ellery Grey, declined to comment.
Little's death was the third of seven homicide cases in Rapid City this year, according to law enforcement.