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Trial underway for teen charged with murdering Rapid City man

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Nathan Graham

The murder trial for a teenager accused of killing Nathan Graham continued Thursday with testimony from former and current Rapid City Police Department investigators and officers.

Ronald Black Cloud, 17, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Graham, 43, that occurred on Aug. 17, 2018, in Rapid City.

Black Cloud was 14 at the time of the shooting and is being tried as an adult.

Ross Johnson, who was with Black Cloud at the time of the shooting, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in June after he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and being an accessory to the second-degree murder of Graham.

Patrol Officer Nate Senesac testified he was one of the first on the scene of the shooting, arriving around 10:52 p.m. that day when he saw another officer rendering aid to Graham who had a gunshot wound to the forehead.

Senesac also testified to calming down Graham's wife, Shayla Colbert-Graham, before questioning her.

The officer's body-cam footage was played for the court, showing a clearly distressed Colbert-Graham explaining that Black Cloud and Johnson had gotten into an altercation with her husband after being told to leave the property.

Colbert-Graham could be heard saying she heard gunshots, which prompted her to duck. The incident took place outside their house at 254 1/2 E. Philadelphia St.

Steve Neavill, a criminal investigator with the Pennington County State's Attorney's Office, testified about measurements he took that showed the distance between shell casings and a pool of blood.

The jury was taken to the courthouse hallway to see Neavill's measurement of the crime scene, which was approximately 69 feet and six inches.

Two spent shell casings were recovered at the scene, according to testimony from James Moore, who was employed by the Rapid City Police Department as a criminal scene investigator until his retirement in 2019.

Moore processed the shooting scene, including using gunpowder residue kits on both Black Cloud and Johnson. Gun residue was present on Black Cloud's hands, according to evidence. 

Moore said the pool of blood was consistent with passive blood flow, which means no outside force other than gravity is causing the blood to leave the body.

Moore also testified that no injuries were noted on Black Cloud other than a small abrasion on the inside of his upper lip.

While one fragment that is believed to have been from a bullet that ricocheted off the ground was recovered, a search for the other bullet came up empty, Moore testified.

Moore also testified that the bullet shell casings appeared to have come from a pistol and typically would not have been ejected more than a few feet away from the firearm.

During Moore's testimony, Judge Matt Brown called for court to recess until Friday.

Black Cloud's jury trial will continue at 9 a.m. Friday at the Pennington County Courthouse.

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