Rapid City woman who ran over friend while drunk gets 25 years in prison

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A Rapid City woman who pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the death of 37-year-old Kimberly Clifford was sentenced to 25 years in the state penitentiary on Wednesday.

Rochelle Seminole

50-year-old Rochelle Seminole was more than three times the legal limit for alcohol when she struck and killed Clifford in the parking lot of the LaCrosse Street Walmart in Rapid City back on May 26, 2019.

More than 20 witnesses were present at the time of the incident. Deputy State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel said in court Wednesday that witnesses said Seminole and Clifford were having an argument, with Clifford outside the car and Seminole inside, when Seminole attempted to run Clifford over. She missed the first time before backing up and hitting Clifford at about 20 mph., sending her flying into a drainage ditch.

Kimberly Clifford’s sister, JoAnne Clifford, spoke at the sentencing, saying, “I miss my little sister so much every day. It bothers me that she’s gone. I’ve been waiting for this day to come…there’s nothing that’s ever going to bring my sister back.”

Another of Clifford’s sisters spoke about how her five children were suffering without their mother.

Roetzel said during the hearing, “This is not a drunk driving incident…this is a case about alcohol and anger.”

Seminole, who sat next to attorney John Murphy during the hearing, was quiet, mostly keeping her head down and occasionally wiping her eyes. She spoke to the court before Judge Craig Pfeifle read his sentence.

“I’m very sorry. I know sorry doesn’t cut it. I never meant for this to happen. I’m really sorry to all of you…for the rest of my life I’ll never forget Kim…I’ll be there for you…for her kids, if you need me,” Seminole said before breaking down into tears.

Seminole’s attorneys, John Murphy and Ilisja Duffy (who appeared via Zoom), called three witnesses to speak on her behalf: her mother-in-law, Mary Condon, sister-in-law, Hope Condon, and a prison penpal, Susan Kraemer. Both Condon’s talked about Seminole’s struggles with alcohol and that she was a nice, loving family woman before the traumatic stillbirth of her daughter and loss of her mother and other family members turned her towards drinking.

“She didn’t make excuses for her actions…she didn’t blame others for her actions,” Kraemer said.

On the count of Vehicular Homicide, Seminole received 15 years – the maximum – with credit for 961 days served. On the second count, Aggravated Assault, she received the maximum of 15 years with five suspended. Judge Pfeifle ordered the sentences to be run consecutively.

Categories: Crime, Local News, South Dakota News