United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Robert Medearis, age 61, of Mission, South Dakota, was convicted on February 2, 2011, of tampering with evidence following a federal jury trial in Pierre, South Dakota. This charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, up to 3 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Victims’ Assistance Fund.
Medearis was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 13, 2010, for tampering with evidence. The charge stems from an incident between January 31 and February 2, 2010, in Todd County. In the incident, Medearis used an axe to remove and destroy the windshield of a Chevrolet pickup that his son had crashed into a tree. The crash resulted in significant injuries to a child. The defendant’s son had denied being the driver of the vehicle, and law enforcement sought the windshield because a person in the vehicle had struck and fractured the windshield, leaving DNA evidence. The defendant claimed that he chopped out the windshield because he was intending to sell the windshield and other parts of the vehicle.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services. Assistant United States Attorneys Eric Kelderman and Marie Ruettgers prosecuted the case. A presentence investigation was ordered, and a sentencing date was set for April 18, 2011. The defendant was released on bond.
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