PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a man found guilty for stabbing his girlfriend in Sioux Falls in 2019.
Robert Loeschke appealed. His lawyer argued that Circuit Judge Susan Sabers shouldn’t have allowed at trial the playing of recorded telephone conversations Loeschke had with the victim, Melissa Greenwalt, in 2020 while Loeschke was in the Minnehaha County jail after his arrest.
Loeschke maintained at trial various versions of what happened. At one point he said that the stabbing by his knife to her abdomen was accidental. At another point he said he fell on the ice and Greenwalt stabbed herself as she helped him up. He also suggested she had fallen and stabbed herself.
The state’s high court publicly released its unanimous decision Thursday. Justice Janine Kern found that the judge erred by allowing at least some of the recordings, but the mistake wasn’t enough for the justices to overturn the jury’s decision.
“The jury undoubtedly considered the implausible stories Loeschke provided to law enforcement and rejected them in light of the other evidence in the case,” Justice Kern wrote.
“Although the circuit court abused its discretion by admitting Greenwalt’s statements, based on our review of the record, we conclude that there is no reasonable probability that the jury would have reached a different result had Greenwalt’s statements been excluded,” the justice continued. “Therefore, the error does not rise to the level of prejudicial error requiring reversal.”