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Sioux Falls jury weighing fate of homeless murder suspect

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — A Sioux Falls jury is deliberating the fate of a homeless man accused of killing a campmate with whom he was drinking and had known for decades.

Eugene "Eddie" Martin, 45, would face a mandatory life sentence if convicted of murder in the May 3, 2012, death of Robert Thunder Hawk. He could also be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of manslaughter.

Jurors got the case late Tuesday and were continuing deliberations Wednesday, the Argus Leader newspaper reported.

Prosecutors allege that Martin killed Thunder Hawk with a shovel for insulting Martin's girlfriend, after first beating Thunder Hawk.

"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.

Martin testified in his own defense during the trial, saying 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.

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."