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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 10, 2019

Kyle Man Convicted of First Degree Murder

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that Clarence Yellow Hawk, age 29, of Kyle, South Dakota, was found guilty of First Degree Murder and Discharging a Firearm During a Crime of Violence as a result of a federal jury trial in Rapid City, South Dakota.  Yellow Hawk was found not guilty of Possessing a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number.  The jury returned the verdicts on May 3, 2019. 

The convicted charges carry penalties of mandatory life in prison and a $250,000 maximum fine, as well as a $200 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and restitution.

Throughout the day on May 27, 2017, Clarence Yellow Hawk, a/k/a “Whodi” and Jamie Shoulders were with Scott Benson.  During the mid-afternoon, Yellow Hawk and Shoulders traveled with Benson to meet with Christopher “Chris” E. Janis and another person.  Benson drove his vehicle, Yellow Hawk rode in the front passenger seat, and Shoulders rode in the back seat.  Benson parked his vehicle at a driveway approach approximately two miles north of Sharps Corner.  Upon arriving, Benson exited the driver’s seat and entered the back seat of the minivan occupied by Chris Janis (driver’s seat) and his passenger.  While Benson was in the minivan, Shoulders took a handgun from the car and walked to the minivan’s driver-door window, by Janis.  Shoulders shot Chris Janis through the window using the handgun, which broke the glass, and then fired at least one additional shot at him.  As shots rang out, Benson and the passenger began fleeing the minivan.  Yellow Hawk exited Benson’s vehicle, approached the minivan and picked up the handgun Shoulders dropped, and shot Janis several additional times.  Chris Janis died from his multiple gunshot wounds.  Yellow Hawk and Shoulders fired at least 7 rounds at Janis.

Benson returned to the driver’s seat of his vehicle, Yellow Hawk got into the front seat, and Shoulders got into the back seat.  Benson initially drove south towards Sharps Corner, then around the area before returning to another person’s house, where Yellow Hawk, Shoulders and Benson split up.  During the drive, Yellow Hawk threw the firearm out the window, which was later recovered by law enforcement. The firearm used by Yellow Hawk and Shoulders to shoot Chris Janis belonged to Scott Benson.

“This judgment rendered by the jury represents justice for Chris Janis,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons.  “And it is our hope that it will bring some measure of peace to his grieving family.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn N. Rich and Gregg Peterman prosecuted the case.

A presentence investigation was ordered and a sentencing date has been set for August 20, 2019.  Jamie Shoulders pled guilty to Second Degree Murder.  He will also be sentenced on August 20, 2019.  Both Yellow Hawk and Shoulders are in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Topic(s): 
Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated May 10, 2019