A Mitchell man who stabbed a person to death during an altercation over a piece of clothing was sentenced Tuesday to a 25-year prison stint.
As part of his plea agreement, Robert Ladenburger, 60, was sentenced to 25 years in prison with no time suspended for the first-degree manslaughter charge that he pleaded guilty to on Aug. 17. He faced a maximum sentence of life in prison for the manslaughter charge in which an arrest affidavit stated Ladenburger used a “machete-type” knife to stab Rodney Bahm to death in August 2020, but State’s Attorney Jim Miskimins recommended accepting the plea agreement.
Prior to receiving his sentence, Ladenburger apologized to the victim's family members who were at Tuesday's hearing.
“I know it's been hard on the family and mine," Ladenburger said while he was in shackles in the Davison County Public Safety Center courtroom. "I'm deeply sorry."
Judge Chris Giles also expressed his sympathies to the victim's family members.
"Nothing we do here today can bring back your loved one," Giles said. "It's the court's hope that this will meet the ends of justice."
His attorneys, Zach Flood and Chris Nipe, made the case that Ladenburger “caused the death” of Bahm “without the design to affect the death with a dangerous weapon.”
Ladenburger was also facing a first-degree murder charge that carries a maximum sentence of the death penalty. However, the charge was dismissed under the plea agreement. Initially, the state was going to pursue the option of considering the death penalty, but Miskimins told the Mitchell Republic in late April that the state decided not to seek the death penality, which he noted was a decision that included the victim’s family weighing on the maximum penalty.
According to Nipe, Ladenburger “went to the residence of Rodney Bahm to collect clothing for a friend,” which led to the altercation that turned deadly. Bahm was 56 when he was fatally stabbed on Aug. 28.
“An altercation occurred that did not have the design to affect the death of Rodney Bahm. He did have in his possession a dangerous weapon, which was a knife, that caused the death of Rodney Bahm,” Nipe said during an Aug. 17 hearing.
According to an arrest affidavit, Mitchell Police received a call at about 1:45 a.m. on Aug. 28 about a man banging on doors inside of the 201 W. Second Ave. apartment building. When officers arrived at the apartment complex, large amounts of blood were formed in a trail from the building to the front doors of Mitchell Department of Public Safety. The trail of blood led officers to locate Bahm, who was seriously injured and covered in blood from what appeared to be "stab and slash wounds" in front of the Public Safety building, located at 201 W. First Ave.
When authorities located a seriously injured Bahm in front of the Public Safety building, he was taken to Avera Queen of Peace Hospital with life-threatening injuries and died the following day.
Upon further investigation immediately after the stabbing, Ladenburger became a suspect. A search warrant allowed officers to search Ladenburger’s 1001 S. Burr St. residence, where authorities found a large "machete-type knife" with blood on it. The police report stated that blood was also found on Ladenburger's vehicle parked outside of his residence, along with a pair of socks, pants and a T-shirt, which ultimately led to his arrest on Aug. 28. He’s been detained in Davison County Jail since his arrest.
Miskimins also requested Ladenburger to pay roughly $200,000 of medical expenses that the victim needed, which includes the cremation of Bahm's body.
"I can't speak more clearly or thoroughly with how they've been impacted by the defendant in this case," Miskimins said of Bahm’s family.