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Press Release

Kyle Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for First Degree Murder

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Kyle, South Dakota, man convicted of First Degree Murder was sentenced on June 2, 2020, by Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Judge.

Clarence Yellow Hawk, age 30, was sentenced to a term of the remainder of his life in federal prison, a $200 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined at a later date based on evidence presented at Tuesday’s hearing.  

Yellow Hawk was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 14, 2017.  He was found guilty of First Degree Murder and Discharge of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence following a jury trial in federal court which concluded on May 3, 2019.

The conviction stemmed from a homicide that occurred on May 27, 2017, on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Scott Benson, Jamie Shoulders, and Clarence Yellow Hawk travelled to a driveway approach off the highway, just north of Sharps Corner where Benson was planning on meeting a man named Christopher Janis and another person.  While Benson was in Janis’ vehicle speaking with him, Shoulders approached the driver’s side door and fired several bullets at Christopher Janis.  Yellow Hawk then took the same gun and fired additional shots at Janis, killing him, before fleeing the scene. 

Scott Benson later pleaded guilty to Accessory After the Fact and was sentenced on May 24, 2018, to 10 years in federal prison.  Jamie Shoulders later pleaded guilty to Second Degree Murder and was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.

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.

Updated June 4, 2020

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime