Deputy testifies in Ladd trialA Charles Mix County sheriff’s deputy testified in a murder trial Friday that she found Louis Fast Horse unconscious at his cousin’s home and a stab wound in his chest. Deputy Dawn Lake, who was the first officer at 521 E. Main St. in Lake Andes when the call came in at 12:27 a.m. Feb. 15, 2009, said she met Eugene Fast Horse outside his house. There, she found his cousin, Louis, 43, unresponsive on the floor.
By: Melanie Brandert, The Daily Republic
LAKE ANDES — A Charles Mix County sheriff’s deputy testified in a murder trial Friday that she found Louis Fast Horse unconscious at his cousin’s home and a stab wound in his chest.
Deputy Dawn Lake, who was the first officer at 521 E. Main St. in Lake Andes when the call came in at 12:27 a.m. Feb. 15, 2009, said she met Eugene Fast Horse outside his house. There, she found his cousin, Louis, 43, unresponsive on the floor.
She and Eugene’s wife Colleen had been performing CPR on Louis Fast Horse unsuccessfully when two first responders arrived. Ladd had been holding his left hand.
When Lake lifted up a few shirts Fast Horse was wearing to assist the emergency workers, she said she found a 2-to 3-inch-long stab wound in his left upper chest.
“It was open to the point I could see blood pool inside it,” Lake said, adding that she noticed a cut in a black jacket that matched the size of the wound.
Fast Horse’s girlfriend, Jennifer Ladd, is on trial and accused of killing Fast Horse with a knife while in Lake Andes for the weekend. She is charged with first-degree murder and could face life in prison. At the start, it was revealed the two Rosebud residents had traveled to Lake Andes for a memorial service for one of Fast Horse’s relatives.
An eight-man, six-woman jury with two alternates was seated late Friday morning. A few members of Fast Horses’ family sat behind prosecutors, while Ladd’s sister, Whitney Meek, sat in the front row behind the defense.
Jurors listened to the 911 call made by Colleen Fast Horse. She reported that a man wasn’t breathing, and dispatcher Linda Sly advised her how to perform CPR.
When Louis Fast Horse was pronounced dead, Lake said Ladd, Eugene Fast Horse and Colleen Fast Horse were taken to the sheriff’s office to be interviewed. Before Ladd was transported, tribal officer Williard Bruguier advised Lake to place her under arrest.
Jurors on Friday also heard a recorded interview between Lake and Ladd that took place mid-afternoon on Feb. 15 at the jail.
Lake inquired why Ladd was sobbing, and she replied that Fast Horse was dead.
“I thought he was … passed out,” Ladd said.
Ladd revealed the abuse in their relationship, which began in December 2008, saying Louis Fast Horse became violent after his family gave him money.
“He started getting real mean. I was even scared of him,” according to the interview transcript. “When he was sober, he was really possessive.”
When she tried to kill herself at his mother’s about two weeks before Fast Horse’s death, Ladd said he stomped on her, kicked her and shoved her in the shower.
Ladd also mentioned that her husband, Robert, who was Louis’ cousin, had abused her. At the time of her interview with police, she said she was still legally married to Robert Ladd and that he was in prison.
The two also discussed Ladd’s tendency to cut herself and her immediate desire to commit suicide. At times, Ladd was heard weeping uncontrollably in the taped interview.
Frank Martinez, a Bureau of Indian Affairs supervisory police officer for the Yankton Sioux reservation, said he noticed a large amount of blood on the left side of a white T-shirt Louis Fast Horse had worn after cutting shirts to find the stab wound.
“The T-shirt was blood soaked,” he said.
He pointed out on photos where he saw blood on a long-sleeve white shirt and blood swiped on the upper thigh portion of faded black jeans worn by Ladd that night. Lake also noted the same blood stain on the shirt.
Martinez noted that preliminary alcohol blood tests for Ladd and the Fast Horse showed they had been drinking. Ladd had a blood-alcohol content of about .162, Eugene Fast Horse .210 and Colleen Fast Horse about .052.
State’s Attorney Pam Hein said in her opening statement that Louis Fast Horse’s blood test was .307. The legal limit for driving is .08.
Hein said Ladd sunk a knife into Fast Horse’s chest through four or five layers of clothing and he didn’t appear to put up a fight. A doctor’s report shows that Ladd had no bruises or marks that night, she said.
“She wiped the knife on her pant leg and put it in the sink in the kitchen,” Hein said. “Meanwhile, Louis bled out.”
Defense attorney Tim Whalen, Lake Andes, revealed that his client had a tormented childhood starting at age 7 when her mother moved them from Pennsylvania to Rosebud.
Ladd was molested twice – once by a relative. Her mother introduced her to alcohol at age 10. She suffered through several abusive relationships, and hers with Fast Horse was no different, Whalen said.
“The state’s evidence will show you this was not a homicide, but a matter of self defense,” he said.
Testimony will resume at 9 a.m. Monday.