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Charles Lakota - mug shot


A Rapid City man was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison for critically injuring his girlfriend with stab wounds to the neck.

Charles Lakota, 19, earlier pleaded guilty to aggravated assault against Ashley Marshall, 21, in an incident that police said happened at their apartment following an argument in November.

Lakota said he had blacked out from alcohol and couldn’t remember the attack, but conceded to his girlfriend’s statement to authorities.

Marshall was stabbed three times in the neck with a knife and bled all over the apartment, Deputy State’s Attorney Heather Sazama told the court Thursday afternoon.

“It’s amazing that she didn’t pass away and succumb to her wounds,” the prosecutor said.

According to court documents, Marshall told investigators Lakota stabbed her with a long, serrated kitchen knife in their apartment porch after she told Lakota she was considering leaving him. Her injuries were described as life threatening.

Marshall and Lakota’s 1-year-old son was home during the stabbing, Sazama said, and may later experience psychological problems from the event.

She asked 7th Circuit Judge Craig Pfeifle for a 7-1/2 year prison sentence, saying this would give Marshall time to heal from her physical and psychological wounds, as well as raise her son.

Marshall declined to speak at the sentencing.

“We don’t know what the future of this relationship is or may be,” Sazama said.

The prosecutor recommended only half the maximum prison sentence for aggravated assault because of Lakota’s “potential for rehabilitation” given his relatively young age.

Lakota’s lawyer, John Murphy, echoed this in his sentencing recommendation.

He asked for 80 days in county jail — on top of the 100 days Lakota had already served — as well as probation so his client could get sober, go back to school and in the process take care of his son.

Lakota was brought up in a dysfunctional setting, Murphy said, explaining that the night before the stabbing, Marshall’s mother brought the couple bottles of vodka. The following day, Lakota’s mother woke them up to smoke marijuana, he said.

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“This puts into context the kind of parental role modeling they have,” Murphy told the judge.

Lakota acknowledged he had anger, alcohol and drug issues: a “bad combination.”

If allowed probation, Lakota said he would use the opportunity to better himself. Jail has given him a chance to be sober and think about the life choices he has made, he said.

He would be grateful for probation but told Pfeifle it was “totally understandable” if the judge sent him to prison.

Pfeifle said he has considered Lakota’s age and the difficulties in his upbringing. But at the same time, he had to weigh the “extreme, brutal nature of the attack.” The stabbing could have killed Marshall, and it happened while their young son was around.

He sentenced Lakota to 10 years in prison with four years suspended, and gave him credit for jail time served.

Lakota had originally been charged with attempted first-degree murder in the knife attack.

Contact Tiffany Tan at

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Rapid City Journal