RAPID CITY, S.D. — A Washington state man accused of trying to kill a Highway Patrol trooper in South Dakota has been scheduled for trial in December.
Washington residents Jonathan Melendez, Chase Sukert and Desiree Sukert, who pleaded guilty to being accessories in the case, are expected to testify against Donald Willingham, 35, as part of a deal with prosecutors.
Willingham pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges in the October 2015 beating of Trooper Zachary Bader during an Interstate 90 traffic stop east of Rapid City. Bader recovered from skull and facial fractures and returned to work about a year ago, the Rapid City Journal reported.
Authorities have said the traffic stop led to the recovery of more than 50 pounds of marijuana, $33,000 in cash and a handgun.
Willingham underwent an evaluation last year at the request of his defense. The prosecution said the evaluation didn’t find any issues that prevented Willingham from standing trial.
He appeared in court Wednesday before Judge Wally Eklund, who scheduled a jury trial for Dec. 18-20.
Willingham has been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana and commission of a felony with a firearm. He’s being held at the Pennington County jail in lieu of $5 million bail.
The other three suspects will be scheduled for sentencing on the trial’s last day. They’re currently out on bond.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com