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Man sentenced to life for murder of Gregory Co. woman

FORT PIERRE — A Hamill man was found guilty of killing a woman by a Stanley County jury on Thursday afternoon and will spend life in prison.

Chance Harruff, 48, was convicted of the second-degree murder of Kristi Olson, a 38-year-old mother of seven who was found dead in her home in Dallas, South Dakota, on June 1, 2017, from injuries caused by physical abuse. The Class B felony carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Harruff’s trial began on Oct. 24, and the jury delivered its verdict the same day it began deliberating it at the Stanley County Courthouse in Fort Pierre.

“I want to thank the men and women serving on the jury for their service on this difficult case, along with investigators and prosecutors for their tireless work,” Attorney General Marty Jackley said. “Our thoughts remain with the Olson family.”

Harruff and Olson had an on-again, off-again relationship since 2016, and violence was often a part of it. The prosecution argued during the trial that this violence and Harruff’s frequent anger toward Olson were indicators that Harruff had the potential to kill Olson, with whom Harruff had fought the night before her daughter found her dead, with markings on her neck indicating possible strangulation.

Harruff originally denied going to visit Olson, but later admitted to it. In the affidavit following the crime, court documents described Harruff as admitting to striking Olson with a “mule strength punch.” Olson’s phone was later found broken in a gas station dumpster between Harruff’s apartment and Olson’s house.

Shortly after Olson’s death, Harruff was arrested. He pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter on June 13, 2017.

In August 2017, the prosecution agreed not to pursue the death penalty if Harruff was to be convicted of murder.

The trial was moved from Burke to Fort Pierre, after Harruff’s legal team felt he could not have a fair trial in Gregory County due to possible juror bias.