State to seek death penalty in deputy’s death


FLANDREAU—The State of South Dakota will seek the death penalty in the case of a man accused of killing a Moody County Sheriff’s Deputy, Attorney General Marty Jackley announced Wednesday.
“This is a decision that is never taken lightly,” Jackley said. “Based upon the aggravating circumstances of this case, we believe it is appropriate.”
Joseph Hoek was formally indicted on Wednesday during a status hearing in Moody County on charges of first-degree, premeditated murder and aggravated eluding in the death of Moody County Chief Deputy Sheriff Ken Prorok.
Prorok died the evening of February 2 after Hoek fled officers in a high speed chase out of Madison. The deputy sheriff had just placed a spike strip down on Highway 34 near the I29 exit outside of Colman when an eyewitness reported seeing Hoek’s vehicle intentionally swerve to hit Prorok as he backed off the roadway.

Hoek, a Sioux Falls resident, pleaded not guilty to the charges. A competency evaluation is ordered and scheduled for later this week. The results of that evaluation will be made public on June 20 during a status update on his case.
A decision about how to proceed will be made at that time given the evaluation could have Hoek arguing he is not competent to stand trial — and the state possibly asking for a second evaluation. If there are no concerns with Hoek’s competency, a grand jury could be empaneled to move the case forward.
The trial that began in Moody County had transferred to Brookings during the previous hearing and to Judge Dawn Elshere’s courtroom. The defense sought to have the trial moved back to Moody County, according to Jackley.
Hoek is being held in Madison without bond.
The intent is to have the trial remain in Moody County in Judge Gregory Stoltenberg’s courtroom.
South Dakota currently houses just one death row inmate, Briley Piper, at the State Penitentiary. There have been no executions in the state since 2019.
The last person executed in South Dakota was Charles Rhines, who was given a lethal injection in Sioux Falls on Nov. 4, 2019, for the murder of Donnivan Schaeffer.
The first known execution in the territory remains the most infamous: Jack McCall was hanged at Yankton on March 1, 1877, for shooting Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood.