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Death penalty ruled out in Rapid City case where mom, unborn child killed

RAPID CITY (AP) — A Rapid City man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and her unborn child will not face the prospect of the death penalty if he is convicted.

It would be difficult for prosecutors to prove that the case against Michael Young meets the criteria for a death sentence under state law, according to Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo.

"South Dakota has 10 enumerated factors in order to seek the death penalty," he said. "We would have to prove one of those beyond reasonable doubt and after a very long consideration of our factors and research we could not meet that burden, and it was not right for the case or the community to seek the death penalty."

Authorities allege that Young, 32, on April 26, 2012, stabbed Morgan Myers to death in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Myers was pregnant with his child, but her pregnancy is not defined as an aggravating factor under the death penalty statute, Vargo said.

Vargo told the Rapid City Journal that he consulted with Myers' family before making his decision and that they understood his reasoning.

Young has pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree murder and fetal homicide. If convicted he would face a mandatory life prison sentence. A trial has not been scheduled.