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Lewis pleads guilty to first-degree manslaughter

In this August 2017 file photo, Anthony Lewis, of Mitchell, is escorted into court at the Davison County Public Safety Center. Lewis pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter on Friday. (Republic file photo)

Anthony Lewis, the Mitchell resident who was previously facing murder charges in the death of a 30-year-old man, pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree manslaughter as part of a plea agreement.

Lewis, 50, faces up to 18 years in prison for the death of Quinn Patrick Schleuning, of Mitchell, which occurred on Aug. 22, 2017. The plea agreement — agreed to in criminal court at the Davison County Public Safety Center — has a 40-year prison sentence cap, with 22 years suspended, resulting in a cap of up to 18 years actual prison time.

The finalized plea agreement agreed that Lewis “unnecessarily killed (Schleuning) while resisting an attempt from the person killed to commit a crime.”

Before Friday’s hearing, Lewis’ case was nearing a jury trial, which had been scheduled to begin Nov. 28. He will now have a sentencing hearing on Jan. 14, 2019.

Lewis was previously facing first- and second-degree murder charges in the case, with the possibility of a life sentence without parole. Schleuning’s family had previously decided not to seek the death penalty.

Judge Chris Giles said the court was consulted about the agreement and the sentencing cap.

“It’s unusual for the court to enter into that type of agreement, but after hearing the positions of both sides and weighing the matter carefully, the court has agreed to go along with that cap,” he said.

Lewis, who is represented by his court-appointed attorney Chris Nipe, was initially charged with first-degree manslaughter shortly after the crime, when the victim was stabbed four times at a residence on East Second Avenue in Mitchell. Court documents at the time stated that "Lewis said that he stabbed the victim, after the victim came at him and the victim was swinging at the Defendant," the affidavit stated. "The Defendant said that he did not plan on killing the victim."

Schleuning died shortly after the incident. In South Dakota Codified Law, first-degree manslaughter is perpetrated "without any design to effect death," or as "unnecessarily" perpetuated.

Lewis still remains subject to the Class C felony fine of $50,000, along with possible restitution for the prosecution and paying back court costs and court-appointed attorney’s fees.

The court hearing was announced Friday morning ahead of the 1:30 p.m. hearing. Lewis, who was handcuffed and wearing leg restraints on Friday, waived his right for a new preliminary hearing for the charge and answered the judge’s questions with short responses.

A pre-sentencing report will be prepared and the defense and prosecution will continue to gather parties for evidence and testimony ahead of the Jan. 14 sentencing hearing date. Lewis remains in custody at the Davison County Jail, with bond remaining at $500,000.