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The lawyer defending the Rapid City woman accused of fatally stabbing her nephew in December said in state court Friday that the case is likely heading to trial instead of ending in a plea deal. 

"I anticipate it will be tried," Angela Colbath, defense lawyer for Lorraine Swallow, told Judge Matt Brown. 

Colbath said she expects the trial to last a week. 

Swallow, 33, claimed she stabbed Tyrell Bull Bear, her 28-year-old nephew, in self-defense during an early-morning incident on Dec. 8 in her home on Castle Heights Drive, court records say. 

After Bull Bear was pronounced dead, police officers interviewed three witnesses in the home, according to the probable-cause affidavit for Swallow's arrest. Two said they witnessed Bull Bear and Swallow fighting and the stabbing, and all three said they heard Bear Bull telling Swallow to stab him, or asking if she was going to do so. But the two witnesses who saw the stabbing had different assessments of whether or not it was justified. 

One gave differing details of what he recalled, and said he called investigators back a third time because he was under the influence of marijuana during the initial interview, the affidavit says. A letter from the public defender's office says two of the people in the home were sober. 

During Friday's arraignment, Swallow pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. 

Colbath asked Brown to lower Swallow's $100,000 cash-only bond to a $10,000 cash/surety bond, saying her client is a longtime resident of Rapid City and has "absolutely no history" of violence. She said Swallow would stay in the drug- and alcohol-free home of a relative.  

Swallow would have an incentive to show up to future court dates — the chance to keep custody of her two young children, Colbath said. The lawyer added that she recently received dozens of hours of audio and video related to the case and that it would be easier for Swallow to review the material outside of jail. 

Arman Zeljkovic, deputy state's attorney, said while he acknowledges Swallow's lack of a violent criminal history, she is accused of "very serious allegations, charges" that involve stabbing someone multiple times. 

He asked Brown to maintain the bond in the name of public safety. 

Brown changed the bond from $100,000 cash-only to $100,000 cash/surety and said if Swallow is able to post it she must wear an electronic and alcohol monitoring device. Colbath said she doesn't think her client will be able to afford the cash needed for the surety bond. 

"This case will be a priority" if it goes to trial, Brown said. He said his first opening for a multi-day event is in April. 

Swallow is set to return to court at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 to set a trial date and discuss the bond. 

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— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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Criminal justice reporter