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A former South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper was denied a reduction in his prison sentence, despite significant local support to allow him to be released before Christmas. Brian Biehl, 48, of Platte, appeared Tuesday at the Davison County Public Safety Center in front of Judge Chris Giles. Biehl was sentenced in March after pleading guilty to taking $69,668 in money confiscated during drug searches while he was employed as a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper.
LAKE ANDES — The light shines through an open window, reflecting onto a tall cabinet in Amber Nelson's kitchen. Photographs of her 9-year-old son Elijah decorate the walls as she rocks back and forth on a wooden chair wearing a gray T-shirt decorated with pink ribbons. This is Nelson's favorite place to be— at home with her son and her husband, Jim. A simple luxury, but she finds comfort in being surrounded by family.
For Mike and Shelly Degen, a recent project is more than a house, it is a home. On Thursday evening, Mitchell Regional Habitat for Humanity (MRHFH) held a dedication ceremony for the Degen's and also for Melissa and Christopher Hiles, who moved into their home earlier this year. "Mitchell is a good community with a lot of support," Shelly Degen said. "It is very emotional." Approximately 30 people, a mixture of friends, family and community members, were in attendance at the dedication.
Mail-in voting, increases to the state tobacco tax and marijuana for medical use ballot measures are among those up for debate in 2018. David Owen, president of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stopped by Mitchell on Monday for an information presentation at the Overtime Steakhouse & Sports Bar in Mitchell, offering his insight into the upcoming year in state politics. "I think this is going to be a session of, 'prepare the electorate to make a change in leadership in some statewide offices,' and just do the normal job," Owen said.
While progress is being made in behavioral health programs in South Dakota, "mental health holds" are a flaw in the system, according to officials. Mental health holds refer to a night in a jail holding cell, and is often the safest option for individuals in a mental health crisis. "It is not a desirable placement," said Assistant Vice President of Avera McKennan Hospital Steve Lindquist. "It is one fallback, kind-of placement option that nobody wants to use."
Why would a person choose suicide? By reconstructing a person's history, Mitchell resident Anne Kelly works toward answering that seemingly impossible question. As a trained psychological autopsy investigator, Kelly attempts to establish what is unique about the suicide and the mental state of the victim. In addition to being a valuable tool for research on completed suicides, it also provides closure for people close to the deceased.
A Mitchell man pleaded not guilty to heightened charges Wednesday for allegedly killing his wife. James Brinker, 39, appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to first- and second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. He was arrested on Oct. 17 for first-degree manslaughter after police found 36-year-old Marie Brinker dead, an apparent victim of suffocation, at a residence on the 900 block of East Third Avenue.
Mitchell law enforcement is preparing for what could be the next big drug problem in the state. The opioid crisis gained national media attention last week when President Donald Trump declared the problem a "nationwide public emergency." South Dakota has not been as severely impacted by the opioid problem, but local officials are not taking chances. Due to the risk of fatality when incorrectly using opioids, which in high doses causes severe respiratory depression, Mitchell law enforcement is increasing measures to prepare for exposure to opioid overdose incidents.
A Mitchell man accused of stabbing another man to death is requesting the use of special expert witnesses in his upcoming murder trial. On Tuesday, 49-year-old Anthony Lewis appeared in front of Judge Chris Giles at the Davison County Public Safety Center. Lewis was represented by defense attorneys Chris Nipe and Zachary Flood. The defense requested several items to be considered by the court in relation to the upcoming jury trial.
For staff at the Davison County Jail, mental health of inmates is a high priority. With three corrections officers hired last month, the Davison County Jail is now fully staffed to continue to prioritize the safety of inmates who have mental health issues. According to Davison County Corrections Administrator Don Radel, 83 inmates booked into the Davison County Jail through mid-October in 2017 have presented a mental health issue. Davison County Jail corrections officers screen inmates for mental health or self-harm issues as part of the initial booking process.