State Judge John Brown denied a bid by convicted kidnapper Shawn Springer who is seeking a reduction in his 261-year sentence for his role in the 1996 murder of taxi driver Michael Hare just north of Fort Pierre on a winter road.
Springer, who turned 39 in April, becomes eligible for parole in January 2029, 33 years after his crime.
He was 16 and Paul Jensen was 14 on that cold night Jan. 26, 1996, when they called Capital City taxi service in Pierre and Hare picked them up in the big yellow Checker cab and drove where they said.
Jensen had stolen a handgun a couple nights before and using it, took all Hare’s money — $30.48 — and then his life, gunning him down on a gravel road while Hare’s asked to be left alive.
After being charged with murder and kidnapping and other felonies, Springer took a deal from prosecutors and pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping and testified against Jensen.
Springer was sentenced to 261 years in prison with parole possible after 33 years.
Jensen went to trial and a jury found him guilty of murder and kidnapping and other crimes and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that juveniles sentenced to life without parole, Jensen appealed. He was re-sentenced in 2016 by Judge Brown to 200 years, with parole eligibility possible as early as 2022 when he would be 39 years. Jensen appealed that decision and the state Supreme Court in 2017 denied it.
Springer, seeing what happened with Jensen’s sentence for murder, compared with his for kidnapping, has been seeking a new hearing for a new sentence.
His attorney, Brad Schreiber, told Brown on Monday in a courtroom in Pierre he was seeking records from the state Department of Corrections to help make his argument that Springer deserves a new sentencing hearing largely because of the big change in Jensen’s sentence two years ago.
“The outcome of that case and (Jensen’s)appeal to the Supreme Court , in my opinion, may have an impact on the sentence that Mr. Springer was originally given in this case,” Schreiber said.
Prison officials have refused to provide Springer and Schreiber with all the records which could be important to use if Springer gets a new sentencing hearing, Schreiber said.
Tom Maher, the Stanley County state’s attorney, who opposed Jensen’s re-sentencing in 2016, on Monday opposed Springer getting a new sentencing hearing.
“I think he wants a redo because Jensen got his sentence was redone,” Maher told Brown.
But Jensen’s re-sentencing was a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Miller decision which had to do with juveniles sentenced to life-without-parole, Maher said.
Springer’s case does not “fit” the Supreme Court’s Miller case because he received a parole date and was sentenced to “years,” not life, is Maher’s argument, one backed by judges’ decisions previously.