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Man pleads not guilty to killing 3 in South Dakota

February 17, 2021 GMT

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A man charged with killing three people in western South Dakota has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.

Thirty-six-year-old Arnson Absolu, of New York City, pleaded not guilty in Seventh Circuit Court to three counts of first-degree murder during a virtual arraignment hearing on Tuesday.

Absolu is charged in the deaths of Charles Red Willow, Ashley Nagy and Dakota Zaiser. If convicted, Absolu will be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.

It would be up to the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office to decide whether it wants to pursue the death penalty if there’s a conviction. A judge has set a March 30 deadline to make that decision, KOTA-TV reported.

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Red Willow, a 26-year-old from Rapid City, and Nagy, a 29-year-old from Greeley, Colorado, were found dead Aug. 24 from multiple bullet wounds inside a car in a Rapid City park. The body of Zaiser, 22, of Rapid City, was found in some woods outside the city about a month later.

Police have said all three killings may be related to drugs.