Judge rules Amir Beaudion eligible for death penalty in 2020 rape, murder
The decision in Lincoln County stems from the 2020 kidnapping and killing of a woman prosecutors say Beaudion followed in a Sioux Falls Walmart.
CANTON, S.D. — A Sioux Falls man accused of the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman is eligible for the death penalty despite his appeals, a Lincoln County judge has determined.
Amir Beaudion, now 22, faces multiple charges including kidnapping, rape and murder in connection with the January 2020 death of 20-year-old Pasqalina Badi.
Court documents say that on Jan. 5, 2020, Beaudion followed Badi through a Sioux Falls Walmart before kidnapping her. Prosecutors in Lincoln County say he then raped her, killed her and left her body in a ditch along 275th Street.
Beaudion was arrested in connection with a separate attempted kidnapping in Minnehaha County on Jan. 6, 2020, before authorities in Lincoln County filed charges regarding Badi’s death more than two weeks later.
After Beaudion pleaded not guilty to more than 15 criminal charges, the state filed its intent to pursue the death penalty, which Beaudion — who was 19 at the time of the incident — appealed, citing his status as a teenager.
In an 11-page opinion filed Thursday, April 27, Second Circuit Court Judge Robin Houwman determined Beaudion is eligible for the death penalty.
The opinion comes more than a month after a March 20 hearing in Lincoln County, in which psychologist Dr. Laurence Steingberg testified that “late-teens” — defined by Steinberg as up to 22 or 23 years old — often lack self-control due to a lack of maturation of the brain.
On the contrary, Dr. Stephen Morse testified on behalf of the state, asking the court whether science should offer an answer to questions of the law, citing re-examinations of the 2005 Roper v. Simmons decision in the U.S. Supreme Court — that banned execution of those under 18 — which hold the opinion that the use of capital punishment against young adults should be based on the individual defendant, and not on a scientific consensus.
While noting that “a party challenging the constitutionality of a statute “bears a heavy burden,” Houwman said that since Roper v. Simmons, the United States has continued to see 18 as a “critical juncture” of a person’s life, and that the U.S. Supreme Court could have placed that line at 21 or 22, “but didn’t.” Thus, Houwman denied Beaudion’s appeal.
The judge’s decision green-lights the continuation of the case against Beaudion, for which a two-month jury trial is set to begin on June 5.
If a jury convicts Beaudion and, in a separate vote, determines capital punishment appropriate, South Dakota law requires the sentence be reviewed by the state’s Supreme Court.
Only one other inmate is currently facing the death penalty in South Dakota: Briley Piper, convicted of murder in Lawrence County.
Outside of the case in Lincoln County, Beaudion currently has five other cases active in Minnehaha County, where he faces charges including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, attempted kidnapping, possessing an unauthorized article in jail and petty theft.