Hepper case may be going to federal court


On Tuesday, July 20, Fourth Circuit Judge Gordon Swanson set August 17 as the date for a motions hearing in the case of Wayne D. Hepper of Kenel, who faces charges of eluding and failure to stop for an emergency vehicle.

The case involves an April 8 incident that began at the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s checkpoint east of Faith, where Hepper allegedly failed to stop, was pursued by a checkpoint officer, and then failed to stop for a Dewey County Sheriff’s Deputy southwest of Isabel.

Dewey County State’s Attorney Steve Aberle said in court Tuesday that there are potentially federal charges to be brought against Hepper, and that the CRST has expressed an interest in the case because jurisdictional issues are involved.

Hepper’s attorney, Marty Jackley, was present via telephone. He had filed a motion to have the eluding charge dismissed because the CRST’s pursuing officer did not meet the definition of a “law enforcement officer.”

Aberle stated in an email exchange among himself, Jackley and the judge, that he agreed with Jackley and he dismissed the eluding charge.

However, Jackley’s second motion is “more complicated,” Aberle wrote in the email. “The motion asserts that this case should be dismissed because his client’s refusal to stop for the Deputy Sheriff’s vehicle with flashing red lights arose from an illegal checkpoint. This position is in dispute in this case.”

Aberle stated that he would be filing a motion seeking to prohibit any arguments related to the legality of the checkpoint.

He said the Tribe has expressed interest in intervening if there is going to be a determination of whether the checkpoint is a legal exercise of their regulatory authority.

The judge agreed that there are not many facts in dispute. Jackley said the only facts in question are related to whether Hepper came to a stop. There is video of that, he said.

Jackley has made a request to have all affidavits about the checkpoints related to the Tribe’s case against the federal government (see Topic, July 2, 2020, page 1) to be allowed as evidence in this case. Aberle said Chief Assistant South Dakota Attorney General Charles McGuigan has said the affidavits are not relevant to the Dewey County case.