Supreme Court Upholds Life for Lanpher

The man, who in 2022, led law enforcement on a high speed chase that ended with a shootout in Madison, had his sentence upheld by the South Dakota Supreme Court. In an opinion made public Thursday, the Justices unanimously upheld the two life sentences handed down by Circuit Court Judge Patrik Pardy. 


James Lanpher (Lan-fur), Jr. pled guilty to two counts of aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer. He was sentenced last year to serve two concurrent life sentences. Lanpher appealed, claiming his sentence was cruel and unusual, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and was an abuse of the circuit court’s discretion. 


On July 14th, 2022, Lanpher and Bonner Juel led law enforcement on a chase that ended in the Ramm Heights neighborhood in Madison. During that incident, Lanpher fired multiple shots at law enforcement, fired shots that struck an occupied home, attempted to break into the same house, attempted a carjacking, and tried to steal an ATV, all before being arrested after a foot pursuit. 


In their decision upholding the sentence of the Circuit Court, the Justices wrote that, “in light of Lanpher’s violent criminal history and demonstrated disregard for human life, his sentence is not grossly disproportionate to the gravity of his offenses and thus does not violate the Eighth Amendment. Additionally, given the seriousness of Lanpher’s conduct, the circuit court’s decision to impose two life sentences was not an abuse of discretion.”