South Dakota executed 15 men between 1877 and 1947; the first of these was Jack McCall, killer of the famous lawman James Butler ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok. Four of these executions were prior to statehood. Hanging was the only method used until 1913. The penalty was abolished in 1915 for 18 years, until 1933. Upon resumption of executions, the electric chair became the sole method of execution. South Dakota was second-to-last state to use electrocution, which was replaced for lethal injection in 1984. South Dakota’s last execution prior to the twenty-first century was in 1947.
2007 marked the first and, to date, only execution in South Dakota since the death penalty was reinstated in 1979 following the Furman US Supreme Court decision. This execution was the result of a trial in 2001, and that case is still having and impact today. In 2001, Elijah Page and Briley Piper pleaded guilty to the torture-murder of Chester Allan Poage. They were both sentenced to death by a judge. Darrell Hoadley chose to plead innocent to the murder and was convicted by a jury. Though he was found to have the same aggravating factors against him, a split sentencing jury led to his receiving life in prison. Page chose to end his appeals and was executed in 2007. Piper challenged his death sentence and had it vacated, but in July 2011 he was re-sentenced to death by a jury and he continues his appeals.