Yellow Bird murder case ended up in juvenile justice system

The Early evening news on KOTA Territory TV
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 9:51 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - In South Dakota, any person over the age of 16 charged with a violent felony is handled as an adult.

That is what happened with Robert Yellow Bird.

He was 17 at the time of the murders of Joseph Standing Bear and Petan Milk at a North Rapid apartment in August 2022. But a couple of months ago, information on Yellow Bird dried up because his case was transferred to juvenile court.

Instead of being tried as an adult, Yellow Bird was handled as a juvenile, meaning he no longer faced life in prison. But what else does this mean?

“There are a number of factors,” defense attorney Timothy Rensch said.

“They look at the child. They look at whether or not they’re co-defendants, whether there’s an interest in having things tried together. Whether it’s in the best interest of society. Whether it’s in the best interest of the individual the person who is below the age of 18.”

Being in the public’s best interest is subjective to the court, and according to Rensch, it’s not solely about giving juveniles a maximum sentence.

“There’s an idea in the law that if a child commits an offense which would be a crime committed by an adult that we want to try to help a person grow into a mature individual who can be a productive member of society,” he explained.

With Yellow Bird charged in juvenile court, details about his involvement in that case or the outcome is not available to the public.