The state of South Dakota has opted against seeking the death penalty for a Mitchell man who was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing and killing a 56-year-old man.
Robert Ladenburger, 60, of Mitchell, was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and aggravated assault with intent to cause bodily harm through the use of a dangerous weapon. While he pleaded not guilty to the charges in September, Ladenburger faced the death penalty as the maximum sentence, if found guilty of the charges. According to court documents, the late Rodney Bahm, 56, of Mitchell, was the victim of the alleged murder.
Davison County State’s Attorney Jim Miskimins said the decision to not seek the death penalty was made with the victim’s family. According to court documents, the state was initially pursuing the option of the death penalty for the maximum sentence.
“The state met with the family of the alleged victim and allowed them to participate in the decision,” Miskimins said in an interview with the Mitchell Republic. “We’ve notified the defendant that we will not be seeking the death penalty.”
Ladenburger’s next court appearance is scheduled for early June at the Davison County Public Safety Center, where he will appear for a motions hearing. Judge Chris Giles is presiding over the case. Ladenburger, who has been detained in the Davison County jail for the past seven months, faces a sentence of life in prison for the first-degree murder charge, if found guilty.
The deadly stabbing that killed Bahm took place early morning on Aug. 28 in Mitchell. According to court documents, the Mitchell Police Division received a call at about 1:45 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 28, which reported a man banging on doors inside the 201 W. Second Ave. apartment building. When officers arrived at the apartment building, large amounts of blood were formed in a trail from the building to the front doors of Mitchell Department of Public Safety. Officers then found Bahm seriously injured and covered in blood from what appeared to be "stab and slash wounds" in front of the Public Safety building.
When authorities located a seriously injured Bahm, he was taken to Avera Queen of Peace Hospital with life-threatening injuries and died the following day on Aug. 29.
Upon further investigation immediately following the stabbing, Ladenburger became a suspect and a search warrant was executed on his 1001 S. Burr St. residence, where authorities found a large "machete-type knife" with blood on it. According to the police report, blood was also found on Ladenburger's vehicle parked outside of his residence, along with a pair of socks, pants and a T-shirt, ultimately leading to his arrest on Aug. 28.
Judge Giles allowed an inspection of the crime scene to take place, which provided the defense with an opportunity to view the scene and property involved. Ladenburger is being represented by attorneys Zach Flood and Chris Nipe.
During a September hearing, Giles also granted a discovery order for the case, which allows the defense and prosecutors to further investigate evidence related to the case that may be discovered and obtained through various means such as interrogation and questioning.
Previously, Ladenburger was involved in another stabbing incident that took place a year ago on July 25, 2019.
According to court documents, a woman reportedly told police that Ladenburger said to her he had stabbed a man. Authorities located a folding pocket knife with blood on the blade in his apartment during the search warrant that was executed on his residence following the past incident. Ladenburger then pleaded guilty to those charges on Aug. 29, 2019, and was found guilty of simple assault, a Class 1 misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 85 days suspended and credit for five days served.