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Life Sentence In Reservation Killing

PINE RIDGE, S.D. (AP) – A Pine Ridge Reservation man has been sentenced to life in prison for 1st degree murder in what authorities called a drug deal gone bad.

. 30-year old Clarence Yellow Hawk of Kyle was convicted by a federal jury May of last year. Yellow Hawk was the last of 3 men charged in the May 2017 death of 42-year old Chris Janis to be sentenced.

Trial testimony showed that Yellow Hawk, 28-year old Jamie Shoulder of Pine Ridge and 31-year old Scott Benson of Martin had ridden in Benson’s car to near Sharp’s Corner to buy prescription pain killers from Janis, who was selling some of his hydrocodone pills to take his wife out for her birthday.

Janis was waiting for them in a minivan with a woman. Benson got into the back seat behind Janis when Shoulders walked up to the driver’s window and shot Janis at least twice. He dropped the gun and Yellow Hawk picked it up and fired – hitting Janis 5 more times.

Yellow Hawk, Benson, and Shoulders then fled in Benson’s vehicle with Yellow Hawk throwing the gun out of the window, where it was later recovered by law enforcement.

Shoulders pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years and ordered to pay nearly $28,000 restitution to Janis’s widow. Benson received 10 years after pleading guilty to being an accessory after the fact.