Spearfish man found guilty of kidnapping, not guilty of rape

March 10, 2018

BELLE FOURCHE — A Butte County jury Thursday found a Spearfish man not guilty of charges related to second-degree rape and aggravated assault but guilty of kidnapping and simple assault of his then girlfriend in June 2017.

Devon Anthony Delehoy, 26, was indicted July 11, 2017, with second-degree rape, a Class 1 felony, punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a fine of up to $50,000; second-degree kidnapping, a Class 3 felony, punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a fine of up to $15,000; aggravated assault, also a Class 3 felony; and two counts of simple assault, both Class 1 misdemeanors, each punishable by up to one year imprisonment in the county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

At his July 13, 2017, arraignment, Delehoy pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Butte County State’s Attorney Cassie Wendt said Thursday that according to Kari Vaughn, Delehoy’s now ex-girlfriend and the victim named in his case, in the early morning hours of June 26, 2017, Delehoy took Vaughn on an hours-long car drive from Spearfish to dozens of miles north of Belle Fourche on U.S. Highway 85 and held her against her will, beat, and raped her over the course of the trip.

Vaughn testified at Delehoy’s trial that she knew her life was about to end when an “enraged, jealous, and abusive” Delehoy offered her a ride home and then continued north after passing the turn to her residence.

Over the course of the 80-plus mile trip, Wendt said Vaughn testified that Delehoy told her he was going to drive her into the country, kill her, and “dispose of her body where no one would find it.” Vaughn said that throughout the drive, Delehoy beat her head with his elbow and forearm, causing bruising and swelling, in addition to her “seeing stars” and blacking out on a number of occasions. Additionally, Vaughn testified that she had to do what she could to stay alive, including feigning a seizure in the hopes that Delehoy would return her to her home to seek medical treatment.

Vaughn said that when Delehoy pulled the car to the side of the highway, he forcefully raped her. Vaughn said she stared out the car window waiting for the assault to be over, just trying to survive.

Eventually, Vaughn said, Delehoy drove her home.

Wendt said during her closing argument Thursday that while Vaughn’s statements related to the events of that night haven’t faltered, Delehoy’s story about that night has been continually inconsistent.

Delehoy only revised his statements, Wendt said, when he was caught lying to investigators, and only when it benefited him.

Kassidy Inghram, another ex-girlfriend of Delehoy’s, testified at his trial and described treatment during the course of her and Delehoy’s relationship that mirrored that described by Vaughn.

“That is how the defendant’s relationships went,” Wendt said.

Tim Barnard, Delehoy’s court-appointed defense attorney, told the jury during his closing arguments Thursday that the case can be simply boiled down to a revenge plot on behalf of Vaughn.

“It’s all a set up,” he said. “A real-life ‘Gone Girl.’”

Barnaud told the jury that the state’s entire case was built on one witness, Vaughn, who, he said, was an untruthful and unreliable witness.

Barnaud said that over the course of Delehoy and Vaughn’s six-month relationship, which Barnaud described as a “dysfunctional” and “sex-filled,” the pair participated in an unhealthy pattern that included frequent fights followed by frequent bouts of make-up sex, Barnaud said. This case was another instance that fell in line with what Barnaud characterized as typical for the pair’s relationship.

Late in the evening of June 25, 2017, that Delehoy and Vaughn has arranged to meet but couldn’t agree about who’s house to meet at and went on a drive north of Belle Fourche to talk, which later turned into an argument, and eventually culminated in make-up-sex.

Barnaud offered the jury a motive. He said that when Vaughn, who was reportedly involved with the sale of methamphetamine, heard Delehoy threaten to turn her into law enforcement with information that could get her criminally charged related to her alleged drug distribution, she cooked up a peculiar revenge plot.

Barnaud claimed that Vaughn told a different story to investigators than that to which she testified on the witness stand. First, Barnaud said, Vaughn testified that she turned over a phone containing photographic proof of the abuse she suffered over a number of months at the hands of Delehoy. That fact was later disputed when South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Elbert Andress testified that Vaughn never provided evidence to corroborate her claims of abuse. Additionally, Barnaud said that in her initial statement it Andress, Vaughn claimed that she and Delehoy “always” used condoms when engaging in sexual intercourse; however, when Vaughn testified to the jury, she said the pair “never” used condoms during sex.

The couple’s unhealthy relationship patterns, combined with Vaughn’s untruthful statements about the facts of the case, Barnaud said, constituted a bad relationship. However, he said, that bad relationship did not constitute rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and simple assault.

Delehoy did not testify in his defense during the four-day trial.

After four-and-a-half hours of deliberation, the jury, comprised of eight women and four men, found Delehoy not guilty of the rape and aggravated assault charges and guilty of kidnapping and both simple assault charges.

Butte County State’s Attorney Cassie Wendt previously filed a Part II Informational filing moving to establish that Delehoy is a habitual offender due to his Aug. 23, 2016, felony simple assault against a public officer conviction in Lawrence County.

Delehoy later entered a denial to the Part II information filing.

According to South Dakota Codified Law, “if a defendant has been convicted of one or two prior felonies, in addition to the principal felony, the sentence for the principal felony shall be enhanced by changing the class of the principal felony to the next class which is more severe…”

In Delehoy’s case, for sentencing purposes, the kidnapping charge could be enhanced from a Class 3 felony to a Class 2 felony, which would carry a maximum possible punishment of 25 years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a fine of up to $50,000.

Following the verdicts, Barnaud moved for acquittal and later a mistrial, claiming that his client’s right to due process was denied. Fourth Circuit Court Judge Michael Day denied both motions.

Day advised Delehoy that he had a right to a jury trial to rule on the Part II Informational filing but that because the trial was tasking, he wanted to give Barnaud sufficient time to discuss options with Delehoy. Day scheduled a March 28 status hearing.

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