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Joseph Dowty - mug shot


A Rapid City man admitted Friday to fatally beating his friend during a fight in January.

Joseph Dowty, 27, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter for the death of Nathaniel Ten Fingers, 27. The offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Dowty said he got into an altercation with Ten Fingers and punched the other man in the face a few times.

Rapid City police officers found Ten Fingers lying outside the back door of an East Adams Street apartment in the early hours of Jan. 26, his face covered in blood. Passersby initially thought he had passed out from alcohol. He was pronounced dead after paramedics arrived.

Dowty’s admission did not involve a plea deal with the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office, defense attorney Shiloh MacNally told the Journal.

“He made this decision to take accountability because this person was his friend, and he thinks about this every single day,” MacNally said. “He just wants to move forward.”

She said both men had been intoxicated, a condition that contributed to Ten Fingers’ death.

Witnesses told detectives that Ten Fingers had visited Dowty the night before he died, according to a police statement submitted in court. After Dowty was arrested, police said he admitted getting into a fistfight with Ten Fingers and then leaving the scene.

Ten Fingers’ killing is the only known homicide case in Rapid City so far this year. The city saw seven homicide cases in 2017, a recent high following two in 2016.

Dowty will return to court for sentencing Aug. 8 before Circuit Judge Matthew Brown. He is detained at the county jail in lieu of a $400,000 bail.

Another man detained at the jail is his brother, James Dowty, who has been convicted of fatally shooting a 13-year-old girl on the Pine Ridge reservation. James has asked the federal court for another trial; the court’s decision is pending.

Their father, who attended James' weeklong jury trial last year, has appeared in all of Joseph's hearings and is now taking care of Joseph's young son.

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Rapid City Journal from February 2016 to July 2018. Contact her on Facebook or Twitter @tiffgtan.