Box Elder woman accused of killing two-year-old girl pleads not guilty to second degree murder charge

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Box Elder woman accused of killing a two-year-old child in February has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second degree murder and an alternate count of first degree manslaughter.

22-year-old Precious Delaney Black Elk is now facing the possibility of a mandatory life-sentence for the February 7 crime, where law enforcement responded to a 911 call that a child was not breathing. After arriving on-scene, officers found the child unresponsive and beyond resuscitation, and reported bruising on the infant. Additional investigators from Box Elder Police and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office were brought in at that time.

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The state prosecutor said Black Elk admitted to “losing her temper” and tying the child’s leg to a bed. Court officials say that the girl was found with significant bruising, including finger marks on her face. Second-degree murder in South Dakota is defined as an act “imminently dangerous to others and [revealing] a depraved mind, without regard for human life, although without any premeditated design.”

Black Elk was originally charged with one count of second-degree manslaughter and one count abuse or cruelty to a minor under age seven, charges that, if sentenced to the maximum, would have resulted in 25 years behind bars. Instead, if convicted, she now faces life without parole.

Black Elk’s bond has been set at $100,000, cash only.

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