(SD)-Sentencing Hearing Begins In Murder For Hire Killing
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - The sentencing hearing for a Sturgis man who pleaded guilty to hiring 2 men to kill his ex-girlfriend 4 years ago began yesterday and continues today in Rapid City.
The judge said the proceedings for 30-year old Jonathan Klinetobe will last 3 or 4 days. Klinetobe faces life without parole for aiding and abetting 1st-degree manslaughter in the death of 22-year old Jessica Rehfeld of Rapid City.
Rehfeld went missing in May of 2015 and her body was found in a shallow grave in the central Black Hills near Rockerville a year later. The prosecution spent yesterday laying out its timeline with Pennington County Chief Deputy States Attorney Lara Roetzel calling Klinetobe "a master of lies and deception who recruited others and crafted complex stories to avoid being caught."
Roetzel told jurors that Rehfeld and Klinetobe had ended a 2-year on-again off-again relationship in April 2015 - at which point Klinetobe became obsessed and began stalking and threatening to kill Rehfeld, her family, and her new boyfriend. She obtained a protection order on May 15, 2015 but disappeared 3 days later after Klinetobe hired Richard Hirth and David Schneider to kill her.
Hirth later told investigators they picked up Rehfeld, supposedly to drive her to work, but Hirth stabbed her more than a half-dozen times from the back seat as she begged and pleaded for her life. Hirth said they put the body in the trunk, then later showed it to Klinetobe before burying it because they were to be paid the night of the killing.
Roetzel said Klinetobe didn't like the burial site and hired 2 more men, Michael Frye and Garland Brown, to move and rebury it 2 weeks later - threatening to kill them if they didn't cooperate. Frye and Brown later pleaded guilty and were sentenced as accessories after the fact. Schneider pleaded guilty to murder 2 years ago and Hirth pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity 5-weeks ago.
The case broke in 2016 when a woman who'd driven Klinetobe to the burial site became overcome with guilt and led police to the general area of the grave, which was found. A search warrant raid on Klinetobe's Sturgis home recovered Rehfeld's purse, job name tag, and the necklace she was wearing the day she disappeared.
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