Haiden Hunsley, 18, of Pierre, faces a possible 71 years behind bars based on charges of rape and other sex crimes against girls 14 and 15 years old, state Circuit Judge Bridget Mayer told him last week before he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Hunsley, short, slight and looking younger than his age, appeared with other inmates of the Hughes County Jail on Tuesday, Nov. 26, in Mayer’s court room on the third floor of the county court house.
Hughes County State’s Attorney Roxanne Hammond charged Hunsley in recent months in state court in Pierre with eight counts involving several girls identified by their initials in the court documents, including a count of second-degree rape July 15, 2019 of a 14-year-old girl while coercing and/or threatening her that carries a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison and a $50,000 fined. The charges include alleged crimes in 2018 and 2017 before Hunsley was 18, which makes a big difference in the possible penalties.
Some of the girls testified to the grand juries which brought felony counts against Hunsley.
Mayer told Hunsley that the eight counts involving several alleged victims add up to a total possible sentence of 65 years in the state penitentiary and 6 years in the local jail, as well as about $90,000 in fines, facts that she is bound to make clear to him in court.
“I’m not saying that’s what I would give, but that’s what you’re facing,” Mayer told Hunsley.
Sitting next to his attorney, Katie Thompson of Pierre, Hunsley pleaded not guilty to each of the charges.
Relatives of Hunsley were in the court room in Pierre as were relatives of the alleged victims.
In the most serious charge, Hammond says that on July 15, 2019,when Hunsley was 18, he committed second-degree rape on a girl who was 14. Hammond cited the state statute 22-22-1(2) that says such rape involves “the use of force, coercion, or threats of immediate and great bodily harm against the victim or other persons within the victim’s presence, accompanied by apparent power of execution.”
It’s a Class 1 felony carrying a top penalty of 50 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
In a second major felony count, Hammond charged him with fourth-degree rape, alleging that on Aug. 15, 2019, Hunsley raped a 15-year-old girl. Hammond cited the state statute that says if the victim is 13 to 15 years old and Hunsley was at least 3 years older than her, it’s a Class 3 felony carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years, Judge Mayer told him.
Hunsley also was charged by complaint, not grand jury indictment, with several misdemeanor sex crimes.
Hammond says that on July 4, 2018, when he was 17, Hunsley had sexual contact with a girl who was 15. Under the statute, the victim was younger than 16, but at least 13, and he was less than 5 years older, making it a Class 1 misdemeanor with a top sentence of a year in jail, Mayer told him.
In another case, Hammond charged Hunsley this year with having sexual contact with a girl under 16 years of age but at least 13, from Aug.1-Sept. 30, 2017, when he was 16 and less than 5 years older than the victim, also a Class 1 misdemeanor.
In a fifth case file, Hammond charged Hunsley with four counts of contributing to the abuse or neglect of a child in August and September of 2019, listing four alleged victims who were 14 or 15; each count is a class 1 misdemeanor, with a top sentence of a year in jail.
Hunsley pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Mayer granted Thompson’s request to hire a private investigator at county expense - not to exceed $1,500 - to help her mount a defense of Hunsley. Hammond did not object.
But the judge denied Thompson’s request to set a bond for Hunsley so he could pay it and get out of jail pending trial or some other disposition of the case.
“”I’m going to deny it today until I learn more about” Hunsley and the charges, Mayer said. She told Thompson she could bring the issue back, “but right now, these are pretty serious allegations, so I will not” grant Hunsley a bond amount.
Mayer set Hunsley’s next court hearing for Dec. 17.