South Dakota News

Senate GOP caucus to hold leadership elections next month
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The Senate GOP caucus is scheduled to meet in Pierre next month to fill the leadership void created when two top Senate Republicans resigned. Senate President Pro Tempore Corey Brown said Thursday caucus elections are scheduled for May 9th. The Republican conference will at least vote to fill the roles of Senate majority leader and assistant majority leader. The leaders play key roles negotiating policy positions for the Senate. Brown says he is running for majority leader. Senators Ernie Otten and Brock Greenfield say they intend to run for assistant leader. Senator Deb Soholt says she is considering a run for assistant leader or president pro tempore. Senate Democratic leader Billie Sutton says he hopes Republicans choose a leader who can bridge the gap between conservative and moderate Republican members.

Students suffer minor injuries in Rapid City bus crash
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — The Rapid City School District says some middle school students suffered minor injuries in a bus crash. District officials say about 55 middle school students were on the bus when it crashed about 7:45 a.m. Thursday. A second bus was sent to the scene to bring the students to school. Some were referred to a school nurse or doctors. It was not immediately clear how many students were hurt. KOTA-TV reports the crash happened after a woman driving a Jeep pulled out in front of the bus. The woman was ticketed for failing to stop at a stop sign.

Rape charges dismissed against former Canton city councilman
CANTON, S.D. (AP) — Rape charges have been dropped against a former teacher and Canton city councilman. Jeffrey Nolte faced two counts of rape and one count of sexual contact with a child younger than 16 years old. KELO-TV reports that Lincoln County State's Attorney Tom Wollman dismissed the charges after the alleged victim testified at a competency hearing that there had been a "bad touch," but was not able to further describe the alleged events in open court. Wollman says because the victim could not testify, it would be difficult to convince a jury. Nolte's attorney Jeff Larson declined to comment on the matter to the Associated Press. Nolte worked in the Oldham-Ramona School District when the charges were filed.

Judge puts scheduled execution of inmate Berget on hold
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A circuit court judge has put the execution of death row inmate Rodney Berget on hold. Attorney General Marty Jackley says Circuit Court Judge Douglas Hoffman issued a stay of the execution after Berget filed a habeas petition. Berget was sentenced to die the week of May 3rd for his role in killing State Penitentiary guard Ronald Johnson during an April 2011 escape attempt. Another inmate charged in Johnson's death, Eric Robert, was executed in 2012. A third inmate, Michael Nordman, was sentenced to life in prison for providing materials used in the slaying of Johnson, which happened on his 63rd birthday. Jackley says it remains the state's position that due process has been satisfied. Defense attorney Jeff Larson declined to comment.

Bond set for Lemmon man charged with shooting man at home
BISON, S.D. (AP) — A judge has set bond for a northwestern South Dakota man accused of shooting a man in his home at $150,000. Twenty-two-year-old Brady Hooker appeared in court for the first time this week. KBJM-AM reports authorities say Hooker shot 32-year-old Leon Paulsen following an incident at Hooker's home in Lemmon. More details on the incident have not been released. Defense attorney Randy Connelly tells the Associated Press that it's still early but appears to him to be the "seeds of a self-defense case." Connelly says he is pushing to get Hooker a preliminary hearing instead of a grand jury. He says both families involved are still in "deep, deep shock" over the matter. Hooker's first-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

14 students receive international travel scholarship at USD
VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) — Fourteen students at the University of South Dakota are the first to receive scholarships to study abroad through a new international travel fund at the Vermillion instruction. The new International Opportunity Fund in USD's College of Arts and Sciences was established by alumni Tom and Nancy Gallagher. The couple gave approximately $1 million to the USD Foundation to support international travel by students. The scholarship awards range from $600 to $2,500 each and the students will travel to 11 different locations including the Galapagos Islands, Scotland and Peru. The fund awarded about $20,000 in all to support travel costs. More money will be allocated through a competitive process in the fall.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press