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South Dakota high court denies appeal in mutilation case

November 30, 2018

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Supreme Court has denied a Sioux Falls man’s appeal seeking to be re-sentenced for assaulting his ex-girlfriend and mutilating her breasts.

The state’s high court affirmed Tony Ledbetter’s 45-year sentence this week, the Argus Leader reported.

Ledbetter had appealed his sentence last year because it exceeded a plea agreement by 15 years. But the high court ruled the circuit court wasn’t bound by the plea deal, which had suggested a 30-year cap on his sentence.

Ledbetter was sentenced last November after pleading guilty to three counts of aggravated assault for choking his ex-girlfriend and cutting off her nipples with a pair of scissors in October 2016. Ledbetter’s sentencing judge, Dough Hoffman, said he went against the plea deal because he felt it was appropriate for the survivor and community.

The high court’s ruling said that Ledbetter was informed that the maximum sentence for each aggravated assault charge was 15 years. The plea deal sought to reduce each count to 10 years.

Ledbetter’s attorney, David Stuart, requested the case to be re-sentenced because there was no discussion or explanation from the court that it was treating the plea agreement as a recommendation, he said.

But the high court’s ruling stated that Ledbetter acknowledged he understood that the court isn’t bound to accept agreements for the sentencing.

The plea deal was intended for restricting the attorneys during their argument, not the judge’s sentencing, according to the high court’s decision.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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