The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the sentence of life without parole for 30-year old Jonathan Klinetob of Spearfish for orchestrating the 2015 murder-for-hire of his ex-girlfriend.
Originally charged with murder in the death of Jessica Rehfeld, Klinetobe pleaded guilty last year to the reduced charge of aiding and abetting 1st-degree manslaughter. The life sentence came after a 4-day sentencing hearing.
Klinetobe appealed the sentence, but the Supreme Court ruled the judge had acted within her discretion, did not abuse that power, and chose a sentence that was not grossly disproportionate to the seriousness of the crime.
Court records show Klinetobe paid Richard Hirth and David Schneider $80,000 to kill Rehfeld, with Hirth stabbing her 5 times as she rode with the two men in Schneider’s car.
Klinetobe joined Hirth and Schneider in burying the body in a shallow grave in the Black Hills, but never paid the promised price. A few weeks later, he hired Michael Frye and Garland Brown to rebury the body in a deeper grave.
Klinetobe was driven to the new gravesite several times in the following year before the driver contacted police and led them to the site and Klinetobe.
Frye and Brown pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact and were given 5 years each. Schneider pleaded guilty to the same accessory charge as Klinetobe and was given 75 years in March 2020, but with the chance for parole after 35.
Richard Hirth is charged with murder and scheduled to finally go to trial next January, nearly 7 years after Rehfeld’s death. His case was delayed waiting for Klinetobe’s to finish, then was further delayed over competency issues.