Top Stories of 2018: Snowstorms, Elections, and a Multi-State Manhunt

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A major snowstorm, a changing of the guard, and a multi-state manhunt. They all captured headlines across the Sioux Empire this year. We take a look back at some of the top stories of 2018.

A spring snowstorm dumped two feet of snow in some spots of the viewing area in April. Strong winds created a blizzard conditions. It was so bad snow plow drivers had to be pulled for their own safety.

“This is probably the second-worst snow storm I’ve had to deal with in twelve years. You know, in 2009, 19-inch snow storm on Christmas Eve, probably tops my list, but this one was equally as bad,” said Sioux Falls Street Operations Manager, Galynn Huber.

Sioux Falls elected a new mayor after Mike Huether was term limited. A crowded race came down to two political newcomers in a run off election, Paul Ten Haken defeated Jolene Loetcher. Ten Haken, a 40-year-old entrepreneur and digital marketing guru won 63 precent of the vote.

“As I look ahead to my time as mayor, I see challenges for our city and we’ll face them together and we’ll work hard to address them, but I’m most excited for the abundance and opportunities we have in this city,” Ten Haken.

Also in April, Attorney General Marty Jackley made his way to the United State Supreme Court. In South Dakota V. Wayfair, Jackley asked the justices to require online retailers to charged the state’s 6.5 percent sales tax to their South Dakota customers.

“The big thing I did today was present a strong voice for Main Street South Dakota, to talk about the level playing field and the price disadvantage that we have on our main street because of the Supreme Court decision,” said Jackley.

In June, the justices voted five to four to support Jackley’s argument, forcing online retailers to start charging sales tax.

The manhunt for a double murder suspect rocked the Sioux Falls community. Manuel Frias was accused in the shooting deaths of Samuel Crockett and Corey Zephier during a drug deal. Police tracked him to a home in Sioux City where he had been hiding out. Considered armed and dangerous, Frias was taken into custody after a two-hour standoff.

“As soon as the window was breached so we could get communication to try to talk him out, either the boy came out or he sent him out. We took the boy and got him away from the scene. Then we got a verbal dialogue going with the suspect and we did end up getting him to come outside. He was taken into custody without incident,” said South Sioux City Police Chief Mahon.

All three gear up trials took place in 2018. Stephanie Hubers faced a jury in June in Sioux Falls. Jurors found her not guilty on all counts. Dan Guericke pleaded guilty to falsifying evidence, and was fined $1,000 without spending any time in jail. And after more than a week of testimony, a jury cleared Stacy Phelps of any wrongdoing for back dating contracts. His defense lawyer says Phelps was duped by Scott Westerhuis, who embezzled more than a million dollars before killing his family and himself in 2015.

“Stacy Phelps is innocent of these charges and we’ve been behind him all the way,” said defense attorney, Dana Hanna, “We’ve always maintained his innocence, and we proved it.”

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