A Yankton man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 22 felony charges — ranging from attempted first-degree murder to drug possession — after he allegedly fired at a police officer and held hostages during a three-hour standoff last month in Box Elder.
Wearing a red-and-white inmate jumpsuit at his arraignment, Justin Littrell, 31, listened as 7th Circuit Judge Heidi Linngren read the possible sentences for his charges. He faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in state prison and owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
For example, his first-degree kidnapping charge, a class C felony, alone carries a sentence of up to life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.
Littrell's bond for the attempted murder charge is set at $2 million, cash only, according to the inmate list at the Pennington County Jail's website.
After Littrell was arrested Aug. 14, a magistrate judge ordered him not to contact seven people, some of whom were his alleged victims, court records show. A grand jury later indicted him on 22 counts, up from the 17 he was first charged with.
The new charges are a second attempted first-degree murder count, a fifth first-degree burglary charge, a second count of possessing drugs (heroin) with intent to distribute, and two additional charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. Some of these charges are in the alternate, which means a jury can only find Littrell guilty of one of the two counts.
Littrell is scheduled to return to court for a status hearing at 2 p.m. on Nov. 13.
It was around 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 14 when officers with the Box Elder Police Department responded to a report of a man with a backpack, later identified as Littrell, walking along a creek near the Prairie View Estates subdivision one mile south of Interstate 90 in Box Elder, according to the probable cause affidavit.
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When officers arrived, they were advised that Littrell had a gun, the affidavit says. Littrell broke into a home on Freude Lane before running from the house and firing at least two rounds from a .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol at an officer.
At a nearby home, Littrell came across a man and woman doing yard work and directed them into a garage at gun point, according to the affidavit. Distracted by the man, the woman was able to escape. The man was then directed to get on his knees in the garage.
Littrell then ran from the garage to another house on the same block and entered through a window, the affidavit says. A 10-year-old girl inside the home was able to contact her mother via telephone and quickly escaped through a second-story window with the help of a sheriff’s deputy.
Still inside that house, Littrell contacted Pennington County Dispatch and made a number of threats, claiming to have hostages, a grenade and counting down as if he were threatening to shoot someone, the affidavit says. He also demanded that a helicopter land in the backyard. After speaking with a negotiator, Littrell exited the home around 12:30 p.m. and was taken into custody.
Littrell is a convicted felon for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, which prohibits him from possessing firearms, according to the affidavit. He was on parole but had absconded and had two active warrants in Yankton.
During the arraignment on Tuesday, Judge Linngren mentioned Littrell's 2017 marijuana conviction, as well as two DUIs from 2015 and 2016.
If found guilty of any of his 22 counts and is later found to be a habitual offender due to his previous convictions, Linngren said, each of his charges will be bounced up two felony levels to a Class C felony.
Littrell's original 17 charges were: attempted first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, drug possession (meth) with intent to distribute, four counts of first-degree burglary, possessing a firearm as a felon, committing a felony with a firearm, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of attempted first-degree kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assault, and making a terrorist threat.