YANKTON, S.D. (WNAX) – Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg announced today that 54-year-old Ervin Morris Cook, Jr., was sentenced to 60 years in the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Yankton County Court.
Cook entered a guilty plea to Kidnapping in the First Degree stemming from an incident on August 4, 2018. Cook was already a prisoner at the South Dakota State Penitentiary when he walked away from the Yankton Minimum Unit and subsequently forced Jeanette Leeper, who was working at the Human Services Center Campus to go with him and then held her for a substantial period of time.
Kidnapping in the First Degree is a Class C Felony. It carries a penalty of up to life imprisonment in the South Dakota State Penitentiary. In addition, a fine of $50,000 may be imposed.
Cook received a sentence of 60 years in the South Dakota State Penitentiary, with 20 of those years suspended. The sentence will be consecutive to the current sentence Cook is already serving.
Cook is already being held in the Jameson Annex at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls and appeared via video conferencing at his sentencing hearing from that facility.
The case was investigated by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, along with the Yankton County Sheriff’s Office, the Roberts County Sheriff’s Office, and Sisseton Wahpeton Tribal Police. The case was prosecuted by the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office.