SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Irving Jumping Eagle, accused of stabbing his wife Alicia Jumping Eagle in the Summit Heights apartment the pair shared, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter Minnehaha County on Tuesday.
Irving Jumping Eagle was facing 12 felony murder and manslaughter charges, and a 13th charge for being a habitual offender with at least one prior felony.
Court records showed Alicia Jumping Eagle had filed multiple orders of protection against her husband and friends back in April said the pair were in a very turbulent relationship. One friend told KSFY News reporter Alicia had had enough and was planning to file for divorce just days before she was murdered.
Alicia was found dead at the Spring Centre apartments on April 3 and Irving had fled the scene. He was spotted by a witness at a gas station in Streeter, North Dakota where police said a witness told them he was washing what appeared to be blood off his hands.
The next day, Irving crashed his car into a bridge in Deuel County and abandoned the vehicle. Police arrested him a short time later.
On Tuesday, friends of Alicia Jumping Eagle said they were in disbelief that the State pled Irving Jumping Eagle out.
"I'm absolutely furious about it," said Stephanie Davis, one of Alicia's best friends. "I don't understand how they could make a murder charge into a manslaughter charge.
"This was isn't a manslaughter case. This was a woman, a dear friend of mine, who was in love this man. He murdered her in cold blood."
Another one of Alicia's best friends, Heather Andersen, was also disappointed.
"I can't believe that he's getting manslaughter rather than murder because it's obviously a premeditated thing," Andersen said. "The State must've wanted something, but, it's just sad."
Andersen and Davis both recalled Alicia as a wonderful friend and someone who would do anything for anyone, even people she didn't know.
Davis told KSFY News reporter Erika Leigh a story about how the pair were at a gas station in Sioux Falls when a man who had just been released from jail approached them and asked to use a cell phone to get a ride. Davis said she was apprehensive but Alicia immediately let the man use her phone. When she heard that he was looking for a ride to a shelter, Alicia offered to take him there. Davis said Alicia always saw the best in people and believed they had good intentions. Davis said she told Alicia she didn't even know that there was a shelter in the location where they brought the man and Alicia told her she should consider herself lucky to not have to know where a shelter was.
Davis said in the last month Alicia was alive, Irving Jumping Eagle had forbid the pair from spending time together, but Alicia would contact Davis in secret.
Other friends previously told KSFY News reporter Erika Leigh that Irving Jumping Eagle had been abusive towards Alicia, that he suffered from PTSD and abused alcohol.
Minnehaha County State's Attorney declined to comment on the case until after sentencing, but did provide information that the plea is "open" and while the death penalty is off-the-table because of the elimination of the murder charges, Irving Jumping Eagle could face up to life in prison.
No sentencing date has been set yet.