Law Enforcement Face Tough Transition To “Marsy’s Law”

New Law Requiring Victim Notification Puts Delays In Case Processes

Authorities say Alex Wittenberg, 23, gunned down Jonathan Puttman, 39, Tuesday night in Dell Rapids. 

He’s facing first and second degree manslaughter charges and is being held on $500,000 cash-only bond.

His attorney can appeal his bond but reserved the appeal Thursday due to incomplete information.

Yesterday, Constitutional Amendment S, or Marsy’s Law, went into effect in South Dakota.

Marsy’s Law requires law enforcement to keep crime victims up to date on suspect information.

Wittenberg’s attorney said they can’t get ahold of the victim’s family members, hence bringing the case to a standstill.

Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said these kinds of issues exemplify the slow start to the transition to Marsy’s Law for the state.

“Unfortunately, it comes at a time where we have crime on the increase in Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County. Our homicides are up, our drugs crimes are way up, our robberies are up and right now, a lot of our time and efforts are being dedicated to trying to figure out how to make mass notifications on the most minor crimes that we investigate,” said Sheriff Milstead.

An example Milstead uses to show possible delays in serious crimes such as homicides or rapes is an instance where  lawyers are trying to come up with a plea deal after 80 residents are affected by mail box vandalism.

“You’ve got to get all eighty to agree or at least have input on it. Who has the time to do that with the volume of case load our state’s attorney currently have?” said Milstead.

Milstead said he believes the law is well-intended but it will be an adjustment to get the processes behind it running smoothly.

“It’s a challenge but it’s the law. For us to implement this change is going to take hard work, dedication and it’s going to take cash. It’s going to take money and that money we get to operate is from the taxpayers,” said Milstead.

Milstead said one way this change will cost money is everyone from the state’s attorney’s office to the Minnehaha County Jail is going to need more employees to help with the new notification system.

South Dakota voters favored Constitutional Amendment S, or Marsy’s Law, last Tuesday with a 59 percent approval.