Mitchell man pleads not guilty to murder in connection to fatal stabbing

The Davison County Public Safety Center. (Republic file photo)
The Davison County Public Safety Center. (Republic file photo)

A Mitchell man pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to murder charges in connection to a stabbing that caused the death of a 56-year-old man.

Robert Ladenburger, 59, of Mitchell, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and aggravated assault with intent to cause bodily harm through the use of a dangerous weapon. The plea was made Tuesday in Davison County felony court proceedings. If Ladenburger is found guilty, he could face a maximum sentence of the death penalty.

The deadly stabbing that killed Rodney Bahm, 56, 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 Friday morning reporting a man was banging on doors inside the 201 W. Second Ave. apartment building. When officers arrived to 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 the man, 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 the knife. 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.


On Tuesday, First Circuit Court Judge Chris Giles allowed an inspection of the crime scene to take place, which will provide the defense with an opportunity to view the scene and property involved. Ladenburger is being represented by attorneys Zach Flood and Chris Nipe in the case.

Giles also granted a discovery order for the case, which will allow 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. In that incident, Ladenburger was reportedly arguing with a man, and later admitted to stabbing him.

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.

In relation to the Aug. 28 stabbing, Davison County State’s Attorney Jim Miskimins said consideration of the potential death penalty sentence was recently delayed.

“I did visit with counsel about the request to require the state to set a date for the death penalty determination, and I think we have agreed to delay court's consideration of that particular motion,” Miskimins said Tuesday.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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