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Man who allegedly beat woman with silver bar pleads not guilty to attempted murder

WESSINGTON SPRINGS -- A man who allegedly attempted to murder a woman by beating her with "a silver bar" has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges.

Vernon Parsells, 36, of Wessington Springs, right, sits with his attorney, John Murphy, left, after a court hearing Tuesday in Wessington Springs in which Parsells pleaded not guilty to attempted murder. (Jake Shama / Republic)
Vernon Parsells, 36, of Wessington Springs, right, sits with his attorney, John Murphy, left, after a court hearing Tuesday in Wessington Springs in which Parsells pleaded not guilty to attempted murder. (Jake Shama / Republic)

WESSINGTON SPRINGS - A man who allegedly attempted to murder a woman by beating her with "a silver bar" has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges.

Vernon Parsells, 36, of Wessington Springs, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to attempted murder and aggravated assault during a circuit court session at the Jerauld County Courthouse in Wessington Springs.

Parsells was arrested April 4 and charged with attempted murder after allegedly striking a woman numerous times with what court documents refer to as "a silver bar," causing lacerations on her head and back.

The woman told officers she was in a vehicle with Parsells when the vehicle stopped, both stepped outside, and Parsells started beating her.

The woman did not say how she escaped, but she sought assistance at a residence northwest of Wessington Springs, where she was located by the Jerauld County Sheriff's Office and transported to a local hospital before being airlifted to Sioux Falls, court documents state.

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Parsells made no comment during the hearing, but his attorney, John Murphy, of Rapid City, said Parsells is willing to waive the 180-day rule, in which a defendant has the right to a trial within 180 days, so the defense has time to review evidence provided by the state and make other motions, pending test results from the state crime lab.

Parsells is charged with attempted murder, a Class 2 felony, punishable upon conviction by up to 25 years in prison and a $50,000 fine; and aggravated assault, a Class 3 felony, punishable upon conviction by up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

A motions hearing was scheduled for June, and a jury trial was tentatively scheduled for July.

Parsells is on parole for keeping a place for the use or sale of controlled substances, according to the South Dakota Department of Corrections, and the Jerauld County state's attorney "highly suspected" alcohol and drugs played a role in the alleged assault.

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