Attempted murder conviction upheld in SD shooting

By Chet Brokaw
Pierre, South Dakota (AP) April 2012

The South Dakota Supreme Court upheld a Rapid City man’s convictions for a 2009 shooting outside an annual basketball tournament that features teams from predominantly American Indian high schools in the region.

Simon Torres, now 22, was sentenced to 50 years in prison after a jury convicted him of attempted murder and commission of a felony with a firearm for the shooting of Shane Bordeaux.

The state’s highest court unanimously upheld the trial judge’s decision to admit a blurry video recording of the shooting and photos of the victim’s wounds as evidence in the trial.

Lawyers in the case were not immediately available to comment on the ruling.

Witnesses said Torres shot Bordeaux four times with a .22-caliber handgun on Dec. 16, 2009, outside the Rapid City arena where the Lakota Nation Invitational basketball tournament was being held. Extensive medical treatment was required to save Bordeaux’s life, according to court documents.

In his appeal, Torres argued that his trial was unfair because the judge allowed the jury to see a bystander’s blurry video of the shooting with digital labels added to identify the shooter and victim. The video, recorded by a cellphone, did not identify people by name, but Torres said the tags labeling the shooter and victim amounted to manipulation of evidence to fit the prosecution’s theory of the case.

The state Supreme Court said the labels did not insinuate that Torres was the shooter, and witnesses testified that Torres fired the shots.

Torres also contended that hospital photographs of Bordeaux’s wounds should not have been admitted in the trial because it could have caused prejudice among jurors, but the Supreme Court said Torres failed to show any potential prejudice outweighed the photographs’ value to help explain Bordeaux’s injuries.

Torres also argued the judge erred in failing to tell him in a hearing before the trial that the sentences for attempted murder and commission of a felony with a firearm would be served one after the other. The high court said a judge is not required to give such an explanation when someone pleads not guilty.

Torres received 25-year sentences on each conviction and will not be eligible for parole until December 2034, according to prison records.