S.D. justices uphold jury’s convictions, judge’s sentences of Bison man for kidnapping and rape

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Supreme Court has found there was sufficient evidence for a jury to convict Richard Seidel for kidnapping and later raping at gunpoint his estranged wife.

The 25-page decision that was publicly released Thursday also found Circuit Judge Eric Strawn had given appropriate consideration in setting prison sentences Seidel is now serving for the crimes.

The case involved Seidel’s actions November 2, 2017, when he went to his then-wife’s workplace, Bison Grain in Bison, and told a male employee to go to lunch.

She testified Seidel then put zip ties around her neck, wrists and ankles. Showing a pistol, he put her in his pickup, went to their marital home and raped her several times, she said.

He later made her drive him to the airport where he left in his private plane, she said. The only witness to any part of it was the other employee who had left.

Seidel claimed the marks made by the ties were part of what is known as “erotic asphyxiation.”

The jury believed her and found Seidel guilty of kidnapping, rape, aggravated assault and commission of a felony with a firearm. The gun wasn’t found but bullets were.

Justice Patricia DeVaney wrote the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision rejecting all of Seidel’s appeals.

“Richard’s attempt to minimize the gravity of his offenses ignores that the jury found him guilty of multiple acts: kidnapping J.S. to inflict bodily injury or to terrorize her; assaulting her by cutting off her oxygen supply; and raping her—all while armed with a gun. These crimes indisputably sit on the more serious end of the spectrum of all criminality and ‘often warrant severe penalties.’” Justice DeVaney stated, citing the high court’s rulings in the 2016 Traversie and 2019 Yeager decisions.

She continued, “In regard to the harshness of the penalties imposed, Richard has not established that the circuit court violated his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. He faced a life sentence for the kidnapping conviction and received a 45-year sentence. He faced a
maximum possible sentence of 50 years for the rape conviction and received a 25-year consecutive sentence. His remaining sentences (15 years for aggravated assault and five years for commission of a felony with a firearm) were ordered to run concurrent to the first two sentences.

“When the gravity of the offenses is compared to the harshness of the penalties, Richard’s sentences do not appear grossly disproportionate,” she said.

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