IRENE — Authorities are continuing their investigation into last month’s death of a man found in an Irene alley.
The deceased man was identified as Christian Michael Whitaker, 35, of Irene, according to Turner County State’s Attorney Katelynn Hoffman.
“I can tell you no arrests have been made, and the matter is still under investigation at this time,” Hoffman told the Press & Dakotan on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 9, in an email.
Irene lies in Yankton, Clay and Turner counties. However, Turner County officials are taking the lead on the case because Whitaker’s body was discovered in the portion of the community located in that county.
Shortly after Whitaker’s death, Hoffman said she didn’t feel there was any concern for public safety.
Turner County Sheriff Steven Luke also confirmed this week that the case remains open.
“As of right now, no charges have been filed,” he told the Press & Dakotan. “The case is still under investigation. No further details to be released at this time.”
Some details were previously released in the case.
At 9:30 p.m. Dec. 9 (a Monday), a Clay County Sheriff’s deputy discovered the body in an alley intersecting the 200 block of E. Main Street in Irene, according to the Clay County sheriff’s office.
Authorities determined the man had been struck by a vehicle. It was also determined this incident was related to a domestic disturbance reported to the Turner County Sheriff’s Office.
The domestic disturbance occurred in Irene, the Turner County Sheriff’s Office told the Press & Dakotan at the time.
Authorities initially didn’t release Whitaker’s name for two reasons.
“Due to the complexity of the case, I (cannot) confirm nor deny any identities at this time,” Luke said at the time.
In addition, authorities told the Press & Dakotan they couldn’t immediately release the deceased man’s name because of Marsy’s Law. The South Dakota constitutional amendment protects victims’ rights and expands the definition of a victim.
On Dec. 13, Clay County Sheriff Andy Howe told the Press & Dakotan that authorities were aware of the individuals who were parties in the incident. He didn’t release any names, leaving it to Turner County authorities.
“We know all who were involved and are not searching for anyone,” Howe said at the time. “We believe the man being struck by the vehicle took place during a domestic altercation at a nearby residence. The driver left the scene and reported the assault to the Turner County Sheriff’s Office.”
The Turner County state’s attorney will make any decisions regarding the filing of charges, Howe added.
The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and the South Dakota Highway Patrol have also assisted with the case.
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