Larson will spend time behind bars By David Lias
Plain Talk A former University of South Dakota student was sentenced to time behind bars Friday, Aug. 1, by Circuit Court Judge Arthur Rusch. Zachary Larson, Anoka, MN, was ordered to serve 90 days in the state penitentiary, beginning Friday. He also must spend a year in the county jail when he completes his penitentiary sentence. Rusch also sentenced him to a suspended penitentiary term of 10 years. Larson will avoid the lengthy time behind bars by meeting several requirements set down by the judge, including: â�?¢ being under the supervision of a court service officer or the Board of Pardon and Paroles. â�?¢ obeying all federal, state and local laws. â�?¢ no consumption of alcoholic beverages of any kind or use or possession of any controlled drugs or substances. He must also submit to urinalysis, breath or blood testing at any time and be responsible for the costs of the testing. â�?¢ complying with the recommendations of a psychosexual report, unless attending classes or training, he must work regularly, and he may not own or possess any firearms or obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Larson was initially charged in connection with an alleged incident early Sept. 14, 2007 involving an 18-year-old female in a USD dorm room. Larson was arrested on the USD campus Sept. 19 and imprisoned on the one count in the Clay County Jail in Vermillion. However, during the course of local law enforcementâ�?�?s investigation, another alleged incident was discovered, resulting in a second rape charge. Court proceedings were scheduled to begin Wednesday, Feb. 13, before a jury in the Clay County Courthouse in Vermillion to determine if Larson was guilty of two counts of second-degree rape. Larson avoided a trial by changing his plea on one rape count to guilty. In an agreement forged between Larsonâ�?�?s attorney, Phil Peterson of Beresford, and Clay County Stateâ�?�?s Attorney Teddi Gertsma, the second rape count was dropped, and the jury trial was canceled in exchange for the guilty plea. Second-degree rape is a Class I felony which carries a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine. According to court documents, the first alleged incident involved a victim identified as â�?�?C.W.â�? and occurred on or about Sept. 13, 2007 in Clay County. The second alleged incident involved a victim identified as â�?�?C.M.â�? and occurred on or about Sept. 14, 2007 in Clay County. At least one of the incidents, local law enforcement reported last fall, occurred in Beede Hall on the USD campus. The indictment was filed Oct. 10, 2007 and Larson appeared Oct. 12, 2007 and pleaded not guilty to both charges. He had remained free until last Friday on $2,500 bail. He also ended his studies at USD and returned to Minnesota. Last February, Rusch made sure that Larson understood his rights before entering his plea. He told Larson that by pleading guilty, he would waive his presumption of innocence, his right against self-incrimination, and his right to complain about what he may believe would be errors or mistakes in the handling of his case. Larson replied that he understood the consequences of his guilty plea. Last February, Peterson offered the grand jury testimony of the victim identified as â�?�?C.M.â�? as a factual basis for the plea agreement. Rusch reviewed the testimony during last yearâ�?�?s hearing, and noted that Larson was intoxicated at the time the offense occurred. â�?�?We have researched this,â�? Peterson said, â�?�?and we have concluded that the fact that he was intoxicated would not be a legal defense to the crime. It would not be a viable defense.â�? A pre-sentence investigation was ordered last February by Rusch. It included a psychosexual evaluation of Larson.
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