Judge Upholds Sentencing from 1996 in Killing of Pierre Taxi Driver

Shawn Springer on June 28, 2013 (KGFX Photo)


FORT PIERRE, S.D. – (DRG News) A judge upheld the prison sentence that was handed down to a teenager in 1996 for the kidnapping and murder of a man in Stanley County.  Shawn Cameron Springer was convicted of Kidnapping in October of 1996-when he was 16-years-old.   Springer and a younger teenage co-defendant, Paul Jensen, were involved in the robbery and killing of Michael Hare, a Pierre taxicab driver.  Springer received a 261-year sentence on October 15 of 1996.  He could be paroled in 2029 but his lawyer said in a hearing regarding the sentence Friday that whether he is paroled is discretionary and is not mandatory and that there’s no assurance her client will get out of prison.  She also said that Springer had basically received a de facto life sentence.

In speaking with Judge Kathleen Trandahl, Springer who is now 34-years-old said “I humbly ask you to consider my plea for a lesser sentence”.  During Friday’s hearing, a Supreme Court case was cited that said it’s cruel and unusual for a juvenile to be sentenced to life if there is no possibility for parole.

Stanley County States Attorney Tom P. Maher said he opposed any change in the sentence.  He said that when Springer’s punishment was announced, his attorneys had urged that Springer receive his sentence in “years” instead of life, which he did.

Judge Trandahl ruled that Springer did receive a lawful sentence.  She said Springer had plea bargained and pleaded to a crime that avoided a mandatory life sentence.

After Friday’s hearing, Maher said Springer’s initial sentence in 1996 was fair.

Maher said the Springer sentencing didn’t fit under the Supreme Court ruling because Springer did not receive a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.  With the case back before the courts again, Maher says he has spoken with Hare’s family.

Jensen has filed a similar motion.  He was found guilty of murder in a jury trial in 1996 and Maher says he expects Jensen’s sentence will be revisited sometime in the future.

Springer’s lawyer, Jamie Damon said after Friday’s hearing that they will now explore other options for her client.

Shawn Springer leaving court following a June 28, 2013 hearing on his 1996 sentencing at the Stanley County Courthouse.

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