State v. Lyerla case brief summary
424 N.W.2d 908 (1988)
Defendant sought review of a judgment
from the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Jackson County
(South Dakota), which convicted defendant of second-degree murder and
two counts of attempted second-degree murder.
CASE FACTS While driving on a highway, defendant
fired three shots at a pickup truck carrying three teenage girls. One
of the girls was killed. The trial court convicted defendant of
second degree murder and two counts of attempted second-degree
On appeal, defendant contended that as a result of the
prosecution's improper release of the pickup truck to the dead girl's
family, exculpatory evidence was irretrievably lost.
contended that it was a legal impossibility to attempt to commit
murder in the second degree.
The court affirmed the second-degree
murder conviction and reversed the attempted second-degree murder
The court held that:
(1) although the prosecutor
violated state law in authorizing the release of the pickup truck,
the violation did not automatically vitiate the conviction of
(2) although not identical to the lost
evidence, comparable evidence was available for defendant to fully
assert his defense;
(3) attempted second-degree murder did not exist
in South Dakota; and
(4) to commit murder one needed not intend to
take a life, but to be guilty of an attempt to murder, one had to so
The court affirmed defendant's conviction of second-degree murder
and reversed defendant's conviction of two counts of attempted
second-degree murder. Recommended Supplements for Criminal Law
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