United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Austin P. Abernathy, age 20, of Fort Thompson, South Dakota, appeared before United States District Judge Roberto A. Lange on November 14, 2011, and pled guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 8 years' imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both.
On December 5, 2010, Austin P. Abernathy was driving while under the influence of alcohol. Abernathy, driving west on Pomani Road in Fort Thompson, struck the victim, who was in the westbound lane. Abernathy did not stop after the pedestrian/motor vehicle collision. The victim died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision.
The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs - Crow Creek Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services, South Dakota Department of Public Health, and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigations Forensic Lab. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Marie H. Ruettgers.
A presentence investigation was ordered, and a sentencing date was set for February 6, 2012. The defendant was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing.