“Our families can rest.” Reactions to the verdict of the triple homicide case in Rapid City

Courthouse 2RAPID CITY, S.D.– With the jury declaring Arnson Absolu guilty on January 26 of three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of 26-year-old Charles Red Willow, 29-year-old Ashley Nagy, and 22-year-old Dakota Zaiser, the courtroom gallery was overcome with relief upon hearing the statement. Witness testimonies concluded Tuesday and closing arguments were held Wednesday as the jury deliberated for around two days before reaching their verdict.

Pauletta Red Willow

Pauletta Red Willow was one of the more than fifty people in attendance to hear the statement. Her nephew Charles Red Willow was shot the night of August 24, 2020, and was described by the prosecution during closing arguments as “a basketball master” who loved his nieces and nephews.

And after a long and painful 29 months of waiting, she was overcome with relief to finally gain some closure. “Since August 24th, 2020, we have been waiting for this day. And so justice is served and our families can rest and put our loved ones to final rest in peace.”

Since the death of her nephew, Pauletta Red Willow and her family have sought to make Thomson Park, the place where Charles was shot with Ashley Nagy, a safer place for people in the area. She started by erecting a picnic bench in her late nephew’s honor and is working with the families of Nagy and Zaiser to add memorial features in their honor as well to thank the community for their support. She says that she is also currently working with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and the Rapid City Parks Department on adding more features to the park. “We are looking to do some more stuff at Thompson Park and to get some lighting to make that a safer place so that it’s not a drug spot anymore and to make this violence make sense,” she explains. “And to bring some peace and some positivity from such negativity.”

Roxanne Hammond

Hammond was one-third of the prosecution team, combined with her colleagues Trevor Thielen and Kevin Krull. In what they believe was the first triple homicide case Rapid City and Pennington County have ever seen, Hammond explains that crafting the story and timeline for the judge and jury took over a month of combing through research and information they had, along with speaking to several witnesses. “You know, you want to have a specific narrative, of course, but you don’t want to bore the jurors either,” she explained. “So it is definitely making sure that you’re including just the right amount of evidence.”

According to Thielen from the opening statements, the prosecution had around 50 witnesses and 200 exhibits prepared to talk to and show during the trial. However, Hammond says the help and assistance from her colleagues was a crucial part of the long process. “There was no way that we could have done this trial with any fewer people than the three of us that we had,” she explained. “And while Kevin and Trevor are experienced in their own ways and have their strengths and weaknesses and ours complemented each other all very well. And so it’s been an incredibly pleasant experience and super important. I mean, because there’s so much stress that goes on and they have been so patient with me. It’s just been a very good experience and it was super important that we were able to be a cohesive team.”

What is next?

After the verdict was read to the gallery, Judge Gusinski then brought up scheduling a sentence for Absolu, which needed to made about a month after January 26. Both the defense and prosecution agreed on the judge’s recommendation of February 24 at 1:00 p.m. During the sentencing, Absolu will be read his official sentence.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News