Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Anderson: Awakening The Devil

Death for Murder

Andersons trial took place in South Dakotas Minnehaha County Circuit Court during the first week of March 1999. The attorneys representing his case were John A. Schlimgen and Mike Butler. Deputy Attorney General Larry Long headed the prosecution team and Judge Tim Dallas Tucker presided over the case. The entire trial lasted approximately one month.

Larry Long
Larry Long
During the proceedings Shainas testimony was never heard, although her description of the events that took place on July 29, 1996 was presented to the court. Eyewitnesses, Andersons friends and his one-time cellmate Brunner also testified. The evidence against Anderson was overwhelming. The defense didnt stand a chance.

On April 6th, a jury of eight men and eight women quickly returned their verdict. Anderson was found guilty on four counts including, the rape and murder of Piper and the kidnapping and murder of Larisa. Three days later, the same jury sentenced Anderson to death by lethal injection.

Robert Anderson in prison garb
Robert Anderson in prison garb
Andersons friend Walker was tried for his crimes in March 2000. He pled guilty to the attempted kidnapping of Amy Anderson, accessory to kidnapping and first-degree murder and conspiracy to kidnap Larisa Dumansky. He received a total of 30 consecutive years behind bars at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.

In January 2002, Anderson filed for a death sentence appeal with the South Dakota Supreme Court. According to the Aberdeen News, his lawyers presented 18 issues in their appeal. Some of the arguments raised included a secret deal between prosecutors and Jamie Hammer in exchange for testimony. Anderson complained that he was not tried separately for the abduction and murder of Larisa, nor did he did get the chance to confront Shaina and that he was denied his right to make a statement to the jurors before his penalty was handed down. 

SD Supreme Court discusses appeal
SD Supreme Court discusses appeal

The Supreme Court met to discuss Andersons appeal in March 2002. The court would finally make their decision in May 2003, but Anderson would never hear the final results.

On March 30th, while awaiting the outcome of his appeal, Robert Leroy Anderson committed suicide. Joe Kafka of the Associated Press claimed that Anderson was not in his death-row cell but was alone in a segregation cell when he was found hanging by a sheet tied to a bar. He was placed in isolation because he was found in possession of a razor blade. It was likely that he obtained the blade to use as a weapon of self-destruction.

Approximately three months before Anderson killed himself, his father also committed suicide. He died from a gunshot wound to his head. His fathers actions may have been the catalyst, which prompted him to take his own life. Kafka quoted Larry Long saying that, Theres a lot of women who will sleep better knowing that this guy is deceased. Kafka further quoted Pipers husband Vance saying, This is what we were after anyway. It just saved some time and effort.

After Anderson committed suicide, The Supreme Court of South Dakota dismissed his appeal. Court documents suggested that they would have upheld Andersons criminal convictions anyway. Another factor in his suicide could have been that he knew his appeal would have been denied.

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