The Rapid City woman accused of second-degree murder after allegedly stabbing her nephew to death over the weekend claims she acted in self-defense, court documents say.
"I'm sorry, self-defense," 32-year-old Lorraine Swallow said after she opened the door for the police officer who responded to a 911 call about a stabbing, according to the probable-cause affidavit for her arrest.
Swallow allegedly made a stabbing motion as she told the officer that she stabbed Tyrell Bull Bear, her 28-year-old nephew, in self-defense after he tried to fight her.
The stabbing was reported 1:15 a.m. on Dec. 8. After detaining Swallow, the police officer found Bull Bear with a cut to his upper left chest and lying in the doorway of an upstairs bedroom at a home on the 2600 block of Castle Heights Drive, where Swallow lives, the affidavit says. Three people were trying to help Bear Bull and the officer stepped in to perform CPR. Other officers and medics arrived to try to save Bull Bear, but he eventually died at the scene.
Swallow appeared Monday morning at her initial appearance in state court in Rapid City via a video feed from the Pennington County Jail. She looked up at the ceiling, cried and wiped tears away as she was read her rights.
Magistrate Judge Todd Hyronimus set Swallow's bond at $100,000 cash only. He did not schedule a date for her preliminary hearing, which determines whether there is probable cause to charge her.
After Bull Bear was pronounced dead, police officers interviewed the three witnesses in the home. Two of them 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, the affidavit says.
The two witnesses who saw the stabbing had different assessments of it, according to the affidavit.
The woman told police that Swallow and Bull Bear got into a verbal fight and Bull Bear tossed a knife toward her, the affidavit says. "You think you're tough? Go ahead and stab me," Bull Bear allegedly told Swallow before she stabbed him twice.
According to the affidavit, the female witness said that Bull Bear was acting belligerent and upset, puffing his chest out, getting in Swallow's face and not allowing her to leave the room. At first, the woman said she didn't think Swallow needed to stab Bull Bear, then said she wasn't sure, then said she probably would have done the same thing as Swallow.
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The second witness told police that Bull Bear was clenching his fists, jumping around and threatening him, but never acted on those threats, the affidavit says. He said Swallow intervened in their argument and began arguing with Bull Bear, who knocked Swallow to the floor after pushing her with his shoulder. Swallow pushed Bull Bear back, and Bull Bear became angrier and took off his shirt.
Bull Bear pushed Swallow to the ground again, the male witness told police, according to the affidavit. He said the first witness held Bull Bear against the bedroom door and told him to calm down. Bull Bear relaxed, unclenched his fists and put his hands by his side.
The male witness said Swallow then grabbed a knife from the television stand in the bedroom and Bull Bear asked, "Are you going to stab me with that knife?" the affidavit says. Swallow stepped toward Bull Bear and stabbed him once.
The male witness said Bull Bear had already calmed down before he was stabbed, and didn't think Swallow needed to act in self-defense.
The third witness told police that she was in the neighboring bedroom during the incident. She said she didn't see the stabbing, but heard Bull Bear tell Swallow to stab him if she was tough enough.
Police said they found several knives at the scene that could have been used in the stabbing.