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The two teens involved in the fatal shooting of a Rapid City man in August used a stolen gun, a prosecutor said Monday in court. 

That information was revealed when Ross Johnson, a 16-year-old from Black Hawk, appeared at the 7th Circuit Court in Rapid City for a status update on his case.

He is charged with aggravated assault and aiding and abetting a second-degree murder for his role in the homicide of 43-year-old Nathan Graham.

The weapon used in the killing was reported as stolen to law enforcement, Sarah Morrison, Pennington County deputy state's attorney, told the Journal.

In court, Morrison cited that point to ask Judge Robert Mandel to keep Johnson's bond set at $1 million cash only. She said he had previously threatened Graham and told a 14-year-old suspect to shoot him. Morrison also said Johnson has a juvenile record, has been behaving badly in jail, and that the victim's widow did not want a lower bond. 

Matthew Skinner, Johnson's defense lawyer, asked Mandel to lower the bond to $25,000. He said his client wasn't the shooter and needed to start saving money to pay court fees and restitution. 

Mandel rejected Skinner's request. 

Johnson had also written a letter to Mandel asking him to lower the bond so he can be with his family during the holidays before he is sentenced, court records show. Johnson, who said his sister recently died, wrote "it hurts so bad to know I'm putting a family through he same pain I just went through."

A family friend also wrote to Mandel, mentioning the death of Johnson's sister and him going through other difficult family issues in recent years. 

Though Johnson is technically a juvenile, the severity of the charges against him means he is automatically tried as an adult, according to SDCL 26-11-3.1.

Skinner is able to ask the judge to try his client as a juvenile but no such request has been filed, according to court records. Johnson is due back in court for a hearing at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 19. 

Graham died Aug. 18 after being shot in the head outside a home on the 200 block of East Philadelphia Street in Rapid City the day before, according to the probable-cause affidavit.

A 14-year-old turned himself into police and admitted to shooting Graham after Johnson instructed him to do so, the affidavit says. Due to the alleged shooter's age, his name and the charges against him are not public record. Prosecutors have the chance to make a motion requesting the 14-year-old also be tried in adult court.  

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

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