After four days of testimony from witnesses and hours of deliberation, a jury couldn't decide if a Rapid City woman was guilty of murdering her nephew or if she acted in self defense.
The 12-member jury was split on whether to find 33-year-old Lorraine Swallow guilty of second-degree murder for killing 28-year-old Tyrell Bull Bear early in the morning of Dec. 8, 2018, said Mark Vargo, the Pennington County state's attorney. Vargo said his office plans to retry Swallow.
Beginning last Tuesday, jurors heard testimony from witnesses to the stabbing, police officers and medical experts and saw evidence such as recordings of Swallow speaking to police. The jurors heard from Swallow herself Friday morning.
The trial wrapped up around 2 p.m. Friday and jurors deliberated almost until midnight but could not unanimously agree on a verdict, Vargo said.
Angela Colbath, Swallow's defense lawyer, did not immediately return a request for comment.
Colbath argued to Judge Matt Brown on Friday morning that he should acquit Swallow, saying there is "absolutely no evidence" she acted with a "depraved mind" rather than in self defense. Prosecutor Stacy Wickre said Swallow could have walked away or asked for help after fighting with Bull Bear rather than stabbing him in the heart.
"She took advantage of a situation that didn't put her in grave danger," Wickre said.
Brown declined to acquit Swallow, saying jurors should be the ones who decide Swallow's guilt or innocence.
Swallow testified that she acted in self defense. She appeared calm as she explained that a few weeks before the stabbing, she asked Bull Bear to move into her Rapid City home so he could protect her from her husband, who she said she recently left after beating her up.
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Swallow said she was sleeping when Bull Bear woke her up around 9 or 10 p.m. on Dec. 7 and asked if she wanted to drink. She said they were drinking and having a good time with her sister, but Bull Bear got mad when another female relative came in the room.
Swallow said the woman announced that Bull Bear accused her of having a sexual relationship with her relatives. Bull Bear became angry and tried to hit the woman, Swallow said, and then threatened to beat up two of Swallow's relatives.
Swallow cried when telling jurors that she told Bull Bear not to touch her relatives. After Bull Bear pushed her, Swallow said, she grabbed a knife and told him to fight her if he is so tough.
I was "just trying to scare him" and get his attention so he wouldn't fight my relatives, she said.
Swallow said she thought Bull Bear was going to hit her so she closed her eyes and raised her hands in front of her face, forgetting her knife was still in her hand. She said she remembers Bull Bear gently pushing her and when she opened her eyes, he was on the ground. She said she never moved toward him with the knife and when she opened the door for police, she said she acted in self defense.
During cross examination, Swallow admitted to Wickre that she had been drinking that night and that her memory was fuzzy. Wickre questioned Swallow's logic of trying to calm Bear Bull down with a knife and said when Swallow opened the door for police, a body camera recorded her making a stabbing motion with her hands and saying, "I know what I did was wrong."
"I didn't," Swallow said when Wickre asked if she stabbed Bull Bear. Wickre pointed out that two witnesses said they saw her stab him and asked if Bull Bear stabbed himself. "Most likely yes," Swallow said.
Swallow, who remains at the Pennington County Jail, has a court hearing at 8:15 a.m. Thursday, according to the jail website.