The Rapid City Police Department believes a man meant to be an assault and robbery victim turned into a murder victim after one of the suspects pulled out a gun and shot him on Christmas Eve, according to spokesman Brendyn Medina.
Elias Richard, 21, pleaded not guilty Monday to the second-degree murder of Vernall Marshall, a 31-year-old from Rapid City.
Richard spoke calmly as he appeared at the Pennington County Court via a video feed from the Pennington County Jail.
Judge Todd Hyronimus set Richard’s bond at $250,000 cash-only at the request of a prosecutor who cited the facts and nature of the case and said he was a danger to society. She did not explain the facts and circumstances.
A defense lawyer asked for a lower cash or surety bond, saying the one requested by the prosecutor is essentially no bond at all and that Richard already has a parole hold for eluding and grant theft convictions.
Court documents list Richard as being from Springfield but he’s been living in Rapid City for the past year, the lawyer said.
If convicted, Richard faces a mandatory punishment of life in prison without the chance of parole.
Masheka Barnett, 42, Kaleb Lukkes, 20, and Clint Marshall, 19, are all charged with aiding and abetting a first-degree robbery in relation to the homicide, according to court records and a Facebook post from the police department. They each face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of that charge.
Barnett and Lukkes are from Rapid City while Clint Marshall is from Sioux Falls. Vernall Marshall and Clint Marshall are not related, Medina said.
The police reports are sealed but Medina shared basic information about the case that he called a “high-level investigation which is still active and ongoing.”
“It is our understanding at this point there were plans in place to assault/rob the victim,” Medina said. “During the course of this interaction, Elias Richard produced a gun and shot the victim.”
Medina said officers are still investigating what the group was trying to steal.
The other suspects were arrested Dec. 29 and are being held on $300,000 surety bonds, the jail website says. Richard was charged Dec. 31 but not arrested until law enforcement found him on Jan. 2.
“The suspects were identified through evidence which was recovered from the scene of the shooting,” Medina said. “This evidence led to the identification of the suspect vehicle involved, which in turn, led us to the suspects involved.”
The investigation began after someone called 911 just after 11 p.m. on Dec. 24 to report gunshots on the 1000 block of Silverleaf Avenue, Police Chief Don Hedrick said in a Facebook video. Officers found a man lying in the street who had been shot.
Marshall had multiple bullet wounds to his upper body, Medina said. Officers began providing aid but Marshall died at the hospital, Hedrick said.
Marshall was the 12th victim of a criminal homicide in 2020 in Rapid City; nine have been killed since August and one other death is being investigated as a possible homicide.
The 12 homicides doubled the six that occurred in 2019 and beat the previous recent high of nine homicides in 2015, according to data from the police department. Homicides have fluctuated between two and 12 between 2012 and 2020.
The recent arrests were made with the help of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshals Service, the Facebook post says.