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Trial scheduled for July in Chamberlain murder case

CHAMBERLAIN--A trial date has been set for the Chamberlain man accused of murdering another man with a glass liquor bottle last summer. On July 22, Nicholas Yellow Lodge, 20, will stand trial for the alleged June 2, 2018, murder of David Hart, Ju...

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CHAMBERLAIN-A trial date has been set for the Chamberlain man accused of murdering another man with a glass liquor bottle last summer.

On July 22, Nicholas Yellow Lodge, 20, will stand trial for the alleged June 2, 2018, murder of David Hart, Judge Patrick Smith ordered following an April 15 hearing.

The hearing took place after Yellow Lodge underwent a mental competency evaluation, which was ordered on Dec. 20. Douglas Papendick, one of Yellow Lodge's attorneys, wrote in an affidavit filed Dec. 11 that Yellow Lodge had previously been diagnosed with major depressive, bipolar, oppositional defiant and conduct disorders, ADHD, and numerous disorders involving the use of stimulants and alcohol.

The affidavit stated that Yellow Lodge has previously had prescriptions for psychotropic medications and been in psychiatric hospitals in North Dakota, Sioux Falls and Yankton. The evaluation, which was done in January in Mitchell, was meant to determine if Yellow Lodge was mentally competent to proceed with the trial or if he had some sort of psychiatric impairment at the time of the alleged murder.

On the night of June 2, Chamberlain police responded to a suspicious person call and located Yellow Lodge, who reportedly had blood on his clothes and cheek and told police that he had been assaulted and had been drinking with Hart earlier.

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Early the next morning, in response to a tip from a Brule County jailer, an officer went to Hart's apartment and found Hart dead. Officers detained Yellow Lodge, who allegedly later told police that when Hart became angry about some missing money, Hart had begun assaulting him and that he had pushed and punched Hart and hit him in the head with a glass liquor bottle multiple times.

While executing search warrants, police reportedly found a t-shirt and shoes that appeared to have dried blood on them in Yellow Lodge's apartment. In Hart's apartment, they also allegedly found a glass bottle with dried blood on it and bloody footprints that matched the shoes found at Yellow Lodge's apartment.

An autopsy reportedly showed that Hart's cause of death was "multiple blunt force injuries of head or torso due to assault."

Yellow Lodge is charged with first-degree and second-degree murder and first-degree robbery. South Dakota law distinguishes second-degree murder as a murder committed without premeditation, while a first-degree murder conviction requires that the person charged either premeditated the murder or committed it while committing or attempting to commit arson, rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping or unlawful use of a destructive device or explosive.

If convicted on either murder charge, Yellow Lodge would be required to be sentenced to a minimum of life in prison; if convicted of first-degree murder, he could alternatively be sentenced to death.

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