Judge Rules, motion denied, Ceplechas will be sentenced Sept. 26

By Tim Huether

Judge Bobbi Rank has ruled that both Daniel and Rangler Ceplecha’s motion to withdraw their earlier pleas of guilty to first degree manslaughter is denied and sentencing for the two will be September 26, at 9 a.m. in Martin at the Bennett County Courthouse.

Rank ordered that the defendants have failed to meet their burden of production and persuasion on their Pro Se Motion to Withdraw Pleas. It is ordered that the Pro Se Motion to Withdraw Plea is Denied.  

Looking back on the case, the Ceplechas were awaiting trial after previously entering pleas of not guilty to charges of first degree murder, an alternative charge of second degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, resulting in the death of Moses Red Bear.

The original charges were the result of their arrest for the death of Red Bear on or around November 12, 2016. 

Daniel and Rangler Ceplecha entered pleas of guilty to first degree manslaughter in a plea agreement with the State of South Dakota at a change of plea hearing February 28, in Martin at the Bennett County Courthouse.

On May 4, a joint letter was sent and signed by both Ceplechas to the court requesting new council and  requested to withdraw their guilty pleas.

At a hearing on June 6, Judge Bobbi Rank heard out the Ceplecha’s reasoning for new council and denied that request, but did not rule on their request to withdraw their plea at that time.

A new hearing was set for July 16, and Judge Rank heard testimony from both Ceplechas but did not rule on the motion to withdraw their pleas at that time. 

Daniel Ceplecha and his son Rangler both took the stand in a hearing Monday, July 16, in Martin at the Bennett County Courthouse, stating they were not guilty of the charges brought against them, asking the judge to grant their request to withdraw their pleas of guilty to First Degree Manslaughter. 

Judge Rank said after receiving the briefs the attorney’s may submit, and had a chance to review everything, she would make a decision on the motion to withdraw the guilty pleas. 

Now that she has ruled the Sept. 26 sentencing will determine the Ceplecha’s fate.

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