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Jury convicts homeless Sioux Falls man of killing campmate

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news Mitchell, 57301

Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — A Sioux Falls jury on Wednesday convicted a homeless man of murder in the death a campmate he had known for decades.

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Eugene "Eddie" Martin, 45, will be sentenced later to a mandatory life prison sentence for the May 3, 2012, death of Robert Thunder Hawk.

Jurors got the case late Tuesday and returned a verdict Wednesday afternoon.

Prosecutors allege that Martin killed Thunder Hawk with a shovel for insulting Martin's girlfriend, after first beating Thunder Hawk. The men had apparently been drinking.

"He realizes (Thunder Hawk) is gurgling, choking on his own blood, and he picks up the shovel and kills him," Minnehaha County Deputy State's Attorney Crystal Johnson said of Martin during her closing argument to the jury.

Johnson said Martin testified that he didn't see what happened but his lawyer argued that another campmate, Clint Cottonwood, delivered the fatal blows after Martin had left the camp to buy more beer.

Cottonwood pleaded guilty to manslaughter in June for his role in Thunder Hawk's death. His plea agreement with prosecutors caps his prison time at 25 years when he's sentenced Dec. 23.

Defense attorney Mike Miller showed jurors photos of the two defendants' hands after their arrests; Cottonwood's were clean but Martin's were dirty.

"Look how clean his hands are for being homeless and living in the woods," Miller said. "These look like the hands of somebody who's cleaned himself up. He cleaned away any evidence."

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