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Death sentence discussed for Kent Davidson

CHAMBERLAIN -- Prosecutors will decide within a week whether to seek the death penalty for a man accused of killing a Mitchell woman in March.

Assistant Attorney General Bob Mayer, who participated Tuesday in a hearing at the Brule County Courthouse in Chamberlain, is involved in the decision regarding the sentence sought for Kent Davidson.

"We have not made a decision," Mayer said, "but we would not need a lot of time to make it."

After a brief discussion, Judge Bruce Anderson gave Mayer until early next week to make a decision. Brule County State's Attorney David Natvig is prosecuting the case with Mayer but did not appear at Tuesday's hearing.

Davidson, 36, is accused of fatally shooting 26-year-old Crystal Schulz in the head with a shotgun on March 11. Schulz's body was found March 14 in a shed at her mother's residence in rural Chamberlain. Davidson and Schulz were engaged to be married, according to their Facebook pages.

Davidson appeared in court Tuesday wearing an orange jail uniform, accompanied by his court-appointed attorney Clint Sargent, of Sioux Falls. He pleaded not guilty last month to first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and committing a felony while armed with a firearm.

Judge Anderson set Davidson's trial for January.

First-degree murder has a minimum punishment of life in prison with the option of a death sentence, which is a lethal injection. Prosecutors have also accused Davidson of being a habitual offender because of five prior felony convictions on his record.

Davidson has already been sentenced to five years in prison, which was reimposed by the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles for his failure to return to a minimum-security facility where he was living while on parole last year. It was after he absconded from parole that, according to his Facebook page and Schulz's, the two became engaged.

Mayer and Sargent also debated Tuesday how to proceed if the defense hires an expert witness on its behalf.

Sargent argued the defense should not have to give notice to the state of all potential expert witnesses, but just the witnesses the defense is sure will be used at trial. The state could gain an unfair advantage, Sargent claimed, if it is notified about an expert witness the defense decides not to have testify.

Mayer objected and argued the state should be notified of all the defense's potential expert witnesses.

Judge Anderson did not rule on the issue at Tuesday's hearing but said he will issue a ruling in the near future.