Jury deliberates in trial of Rapid City teen charged with murder
UPDATE (10/7/21 @ 7:25 a.m.): The jury found 17-year-old Black Cloud guilty of second-degree murder.
Black Cloud was just 14 years old when the incident occurred and was tried in adult court for the 2018 shooting death of Nathan Graham.
A sentencing date has not yet been set.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The fate of 17-year-old Ronnie Black Cloud now lies in the hands of a Rapid City Jury.
On the night of August 17, 2018, Ronnie Black Cloud and Ross Johnson arrived at the home of Nathan Graham, with intentions to hang out with Graham’s stepson. The boys were told they weren’t welcome on the property and asked to leave by the Grahams, and an altercation ensued between Johnson and Graham in front of the home.
The situation ended with the firing of a gun, which Black Cloud admitted to yesterday. The gun was brought to the property by Johnson though, who pleaded guilty to a lesser charge earlier this year.
Now, Black Cloud is being tried as an adult, and it is up to the jury to decide if the shooting was justified in the self defense of Black Cloud and Johnson. Prosecutors argued that the lives of the two teens were not in danger during the altercation, and that they could’ve left the property instead of continuing the fight. Prosecutors also argued that the fight was over before the shots were fires, citing shell casings that were found over sixty feet from were Graham lay.
Prosecutors thus believe that the shots Black Cloud fired were in excess of what was needed to end the fight, so that the claim of self-defense is not valid.
The defense disagreed, arguing that Black Cloud’s actions were justified to defend Ross Johnson from Nathan Graham. They reiterated Black Cloud’s testimony, when he claimed that he heard Graham threaten to shoot the teens, and that he though he saw Graham’s wife hand a gun to Graham. Under these circumstances, the defense believes that Black Cloud was justified in the firing of the weapon, claiming that Black Cloud had limited life experience and was acting to preserve the life of Johnson rather than end the life of Graham.
Black Cloud’s attorney also told jurors that there is plenty of blame to go around, and the consequences have all fallen on Black Cloud. They said that Graham was also intoxicated that night, and that other adults had to have been responsible for supplying the drugs, alcohol, and gun Black Cloud and Johnson admit to using that night.
The case is now in the hands of the jury, which has three charges to consider: second degree murder, first degree manslaughter, and second degree manslaughter. It is also possible that Black Cloud may be found not guilty altogether.