Rapid City man found guilty in murder-for-hire plot
UPDATE: The jury has found William Thoman guilty in the murder-for-hire plot against his late wife’s doctor.
NewsCenter1 will continue to update the story as details become available.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Jury deliberations are underway in the case against William Thoman, the Rapid City man accused of trying to hire someone to kill a Regional Health doctor.
The jury of five women and seven men began deliberating at about 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
Before determining guilt or innocence, the jury has been instructed to decide what crime was committed — whether it was when Thoman asked for a gun or when he asked for a hit man.
In their closing arguments Thursday, the prosecution and defense portrayed the Rapid City man two different ways; both sides focused on whether Thoman had the intent of plotting to kill the doctor who treated his wife of cancer.
In deciding intent, Trevor Thielen with the Attorney General’s Office who is prosecuting the case, said Thoman’s words and actions “went beyond grief.”
According to the prosecution, the crime was committed when Thoman asked key witness, Ken Jones, to get ahold of a “hit man,” while referencing a gun multiple times. Thoman has admitted to law enforcement that he had guns in his home. But according to the state, he didn’t possess a smaller gun that would allow him to get “close and personal” to the doctor.
Thielen cited the witness’s reaction to Thoman saying he wanted to go after the doctor with a shotgun, to which the witness responded “You just can’t say that.”
The defense, led by Ellery Grey, began closing statements by characterizing Thoman as a “cantankerous old man who talks without a filter,” not a man who worked with criminal intent. He argued Thoman’s actions spoke louder than words.
While Thoman made statements of wanting to kill the doctor either with a gun or running him over in the car, Grey pointed out a gun had not been produced nor did Thoman have a reliable vehicle. Grey argued the lack of a produced gun or hit man in the case shows Thoman “was just venting” out of grief for his wife.
Thoman is accused in a separate case of inquiring in jail about how to “get rid of” a Rapid City Judge and the key witness in the first case.
The state argued that Thoman is displaying a pattern; from first finding out there was no evidence the doctor treating his wife did anything medically wrong to then failing to successfully file a lawsuit against the Rapid City Judge for not lowering his bond. In both cases, the state claims, Thoman sought violent responses.
Two jail informants who took the stand earlier in the week told the court that Thoman’s references to the judge and witness were “repetitious and tiresome.”
On the other hand, the defense both questioned the credibility of the informants and said the second case has nothing to do with the first, reiterating their characterization of Thoman as a cantankerous old man.
If Thoman is found guilty of attempted first-degree murder, he could face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. If he is convicted of criminal solicitation, he could face up to 50 years in prison.
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