The state’s highest court this week upheld a decades-long sentence for a man who pleaded guilty to shooting and killing a Sioux Falls teen during an attempted drug rip in 2017.
Dylan Michael Holler, who was 18 when he shot Riley Stonehouse at Bakker Park in Sioux Falls during an attempted marijuana robbery of another teen, was sentenced to 80 years in prison with 40 years suspended in February 2019.
Holler, now 20, appealed his sentence, raising the issues of whether it is disproportionate to the offense under the Eighth Amendment, and whether the sentencing court abused its discretion by “failing to consider Holler’s individual characteristics.”
Holler argued that another teen charged in the case — referred to in the opinion as “J.C.” — could have been tried as an adult, but was transferred to juvenile court, and that, had the crime been committed about a month earlier, Holler could have also been transferred to juvenile court. Justices should consider the “evolving standards of decency” about juveniles and sentencing trends and compare the two’s situations, Holler argued.
“The fact remains that Holler crossed the line drawn for adulthood before he committed this offense,” South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson wrote.
Holler also says he thinks the court did not properly consider his individual circumstances, something that first-degree manslaughter convictions allow, given the wide sentencing range. First-degree manslaughter is a Class C Felony, which can be punished by probation up to life in prison.
Holler said the circuit court judge didn’t properly consider things such as: his traumatic childhood including abuse by his father and at a daycare; witnessing his mother’s abuse; his ADHD, which he says delayed brain maturation by years; and his multiple stints at residential youth facilities, such as McCrossan’s Boys Ranch, from which he had been released about one month before this August 2017 shooting. Holler also said he had shown remorse for his actions.
Read the opinion: State of South Dakota v. Dylan M. Holler
Gilbertson wrote that the circuit court “properly and carefully examined the events surrounding the offense, Holler’s character and history, and Holler’s rehabilitation prospects” at the time of sentencing. Holler has the possibility of parole in about 20 years.
“No one is saying he (Holler) intentionally shot (Riley Stonehouse),” Second Circuit Court Judge Nantalie Damgaard said at the time of Holler’s sentencing. “It’s his intentional acts that led up to this.”
Holler pleaded guilty to shooting Stonehouse, who would have been a junior at Washington High School in Sioux Falls, during the attempted robbery of a different teen, Jayden Eastman. Holler and another teen charged in the incident, “J.C.,” had sent Snapchat messages to set up a drug rip for 9 grams of marijuana. The boys were going to take the marijuana from Eastman and not pay him the agreed-upon $130.
Holler, “J.C.”, Stonehouse and Jayden Eastman were in a vehicle at Bakker Park the night of Aug. 28, 2017, when Holler got out of the vehicle with a gun. He hit Eastman with the gun, and it discharged, striking Stonehouse.
Email reporter Danielle Ferguson at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter at @DaniFergs.
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