UPDATE: A Codington County Circuit Court Jury returned a verdict of not guilty against Jason Endres last night. He was facing aggravated assault and second degree manslaughter charges. The jury began convening at 2:50 p.m. Friday and returned their verdict around 8:30 p.m. Friday evening.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------closing arguments were made this afternoon in the Jason Endres trial. Endres, who is facing aggravated assault and second degree manslaughter charges , was represented by Watertown Attorney Roger Ellyson. The state was represented by Deputy Attorney General Doug Barnett of Sioux Falls and Codington County States Attorney Rebecca Morlock. The charges against Endres date back to October 28th of 2017 involving an incident that happened at the Southfork Lounge on Highway 81. It was at that location where Endres and 40 year-old Jeremy Buol got into a fight. Buol was transferred to Prairie Lakes Hospital and later to Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls where he died several days later from a head injury. In his closing remarks Friday afternoon Barnett agreed that Endres didn’t intend to cause bodily harm to Jeremy Buol, but that he made a deliberate decision to engage him and that it wasn’t in self-defense and should now be held accountable for his death. Barnett admitted that Jeremy was quote, “hammered”, that evening but that he wasn’t acting aggressive and actually came out of the lounge happy. Barnett said that Jeremy Buol didn’t provoke anyone and there were no other fights. Ellyson disagreed saying this case was many things, but that it wasn't a closed case. He said the state hadn't proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the punch from Endres caused Buol’s death and therefore he must be found not guilty. With his temper rising and fist pounding a podium before the jury Ellyson said that, for the state to keep saying Jeremy Buols was blindsided by one punch, was ridiculous and not true. Ellyson said the reports show that Buol had up to as many as 14 different injuries and they all couldn't happen with one punch. He believes when Jeremy arrived at the bar that night that he bought drinks, drank and took meth. He said he got crazy and came out of the bar howling at the sky at the top of his lungs. Ellyson said when you have someone come at you with a beer bottle you should have the right to protect yourself. He said it’s crazy to think you can’t defend yourself from someone high on meth and added that he was surprised that Mr. Barnett could say with a straight face that it wasn’t self defense. Ellyson also took the DCI investigators to task for conducting what he said was a poor investigation, an investigation that Ellyson said was more concerned about getting a conviction that conducting a search for the truth. Ellyson said that he served as a states attorney for twenty years and knows right from wrong. He said this case was only a search for a conviction. He accused the state of taking the easy way out, missing key evidence along the way. Barnett had the last word before the jury and began by taking offense at remarks made by Ellyson that he said was an attack on the facts, the investigation, and Barnett himself. Barnett advised the jury to keep their eye on the ball saying that Endres blindsided Buol and hit him, even though he didn’t mean to kill him. The case was presented to the jury at 2:50 Friday afternoon.