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Court: Miranda rights weren't violated in murder case

Following a hearing Wednesday afternoon, the case of a Mitchell man accused of murder will continue to include the statements he made to law enforcement after he was arrested.

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Anthony Lewis, 50, of Mitchell, S.D., was arrested after a fatal stabbing Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017.

Following a hearing Wednesday afternoon, the case of a Mitchell man accused of murder will continue to include the statements he made to law enforcement after he was arrested.

A motion to suppress those statements was filed by the defense for 50-year-old Anthony Lewis, who was arrested in August 2017 on allegations that he stabbed a man four times, ultimately resulting in the man's death.

Through court documents, the defense argued that Lewis invoked his right to an attorney, but that police continued to question him without providing one. The prosecution, however, asserted that Lewis was properly advised of his Miranda rights and, fully understanding them, he "chose to waive those rights and signed a waiver form."

Judge Chris Giles sided with the state after reviewing both sides' arguments and interview transcripts.

The transcripts from that interview include an exchange between a law enforcement officer and Lewis, during which Lewis said, "I get a lawyer." While the defense argued that statement clearly qualified as a request for an attorney, the state, and later Giles, disagreed.

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"It was not clear that the defendant was asking for a lawyer at that time," Giles said at the hearing.

Giles said that according to legal precedent, once a defendant asks for an attorney, questioning can't continue until one has been provided. He said that particular statement was not a clear request for a lawyer, that no incriminating statements were made by Lewis before he more clearly asked for one.

As further explanation for his denial of the motion to suppress, Giles cited a video showing an interaction between Lewis and Lt. Det. Don Everson. He rationalized that Everson appeared to be leaving the room when Lewis stopped him and said he would talk. He saw this as Lewis expressing a willingness to talk to law enforcement, therefore waiving his rights.

At the time of his arrest, Lewis was originally charged with first-degree manslaughter, but was later recharged by indictment with first- and second-degree murder, both of which are classified as more serious felonies than manslaughter and carry a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison upon conviction.

In South Dakota, first-degree murder is punishable by death, although after speaking with the alleged victim's family, the court ordered in January that the state would not be able to seek the death penalty if Lewis were convicted.

Now that the motion to suppress has been denied, another hearing has been scheduled for the morning of Nov. 5, at which time the court will address any motions that need to be considered. A jury trial is then scheduled to take place before the end of the year.

In preparation for the trial, the defense has requested to include expert witnesses including a chemist and a videographer and was granted initial budgets of $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. Most recently, on Aug. 27, the court granted the defense $27,703 in additional funding for a crime reconstruction expert.

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