S.D. justices uphold child rape convictions

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A circuit judge didn’t commit prejudicial error during conviction of a man for rape of a child of the woman with whom he had a relationship, the South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled.

In a decision publicly released Wednesday, the state’s highest court unanimously refused to overturn the jury’s 2019 guilty verdicts against Brandon Keith Snodgrass of Pierre on eight counts of first-degree rape of a person younger than age 16 and four counts of sexual contact with a child.

A former state attorney general, now-retired Circuit Judge Mark Barnett, presided over the proceedings. Attorney David Siebrasse, representing Snodgrass, focused his appeal to the Supreme Court on Barnett’s actions.

Justice Steven Jensen wrote the Supreme Court’s opinion finding that Judge Barnett didn’t commit prejudicial errors that defendant Snodgrass alleged. The justice agreed the judge should have explained the reason for allowing as evidence several photos of adults in sexual acts found on devices belonging to Snodgrass.

“Our review of (victim)’s testimony and the other properly admitted evidence leads us to conclude that the error was not prejudicial. (Victim)’s testimony was detailed and consistent, and the State presented evidence corroborating her testimony. Further, the internet searches, histories, and pornographic images involving underaged girls, along with the images Snodgrass took of (victim), were properly admitted and probative to Snodgrass’s intent and plan to sexually abuse (victim),” the justice wrote.

Later in the decision, Justice Jensen said the judge didn’t err in turning down a motion for acquittal.

In another decision released Wednesday, the justices unanimously rejected the appeal of a Sioux Falls woman, Josephine Rae McReynolds, who was convicted of simple assault for hitting a police officer with a cell phone.

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