Court documents reveal new details in Watertown homicide

WATERTOWN, S.D. (KSFY) - Court documents obtained by KSFY News reveal new details about what led up to a fatal shooting in Watertown last year.

Alexis Velazquez Sanchez, 31, is accused in the murder of 17-year-old Jayden Harley in June 2017 after what police said was a dispute over a noise complaint.

In January 2018, Velazquez Sanchez told the court how the incident began. He said he was walking up to his home in Watertown on June 10, 2017 "when words were exchanged" between Velazquez Sanchez and a group of people across the street, including Harley.

Velazquez Sanchez, who was armed with a .45 caliber pistol, said Harley walked towards his home and the two "continued to exchange words." He said the two began to argue, and that the argument escalated.

Velazquez Sanchez said he made the first move on an unarmed Harley, striking him with the pistol. Harley then lunged at him, yelling at him to shoot, which is when Velazquez Sanchez said he fired the single shot that took Harley's life.

From 2004-2011, Velazquez Sanchez said he was deployed twice to Iraq, and when he returned home, he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

He told the court: "my mental illness affected me at the time I fired the shot, as it impaired my judgement. It did not affect me to the point where I was not capable of knowing right from wrong, but it affected my judgement."

After the shooting, Velazquez Sanchez said he immediately went inside his home and called 911.

Also in January 2018, Dr. Mark Bontreger, a mental health professional who evaluated Velazquez Sanchez, told the court that on the day of the shooting Velazquez Sanchez "suffered from a substantial psychiatric disorder of thought, mood or behavior which affected him at the time of the commission of the offense, which impaired his judgement. It did not impair his judgement to the extent that he was incapable of knowing the wrongfulness of his act."

Velazquez Sanchez is scheduled to be sentenced on March 21. He has pled guilty but mentally ill to first degree manslaughter. Charges of second degree murder and second degree manslaughter were dropped as part of a plea deal.

The plea deal also capped Velazquez Sanchez's sentence at 50 years in the State Penitentiary, according to court documents.