Man Faces First-Degree Murder Charge After Deputy’s Death

Man Faces First-Degree Murder Charge After Deputy's Death

( – Police officers in Madison, South Dakota, responded to a call about a man who was making “homicidal threats” on Friday, February 2. When they arrived, they spotted 40-year-old Joseph Gene Hoek in a vehicle. He didn’t stop to talk to officers but instead sped off, resulting in a high-speed chase. A deputy died during the pursuit.

The chase took Hoek and police officers onto Highway 34, where speeds reached 115 mph. Moody County Chief Deputy Ken Prorok was on the highway deploying spike strips designed to flatten the suspect’s tires and end the chase when Hoek struck him. A witness account said that Hoek swerved and intentionally struck Prorok. The suspect’s car flipped shortly after that, and he fled on foot. The witness then chased after and detained him until officers arrived. Prorok died at the scene.

On Monday, February 5, South Dakota prosecutors charged Hoek with first-degree murder in the deputy’s death and aggravated eluding for taking officers on a chase. According to AP, Hoek’s lawyer, Manuel De Castro, said he wants to look into mental health issues, and he believes Hoek has been “overcharged.” He said, “it’s an emotional case for everybody involved.”

More information also came to light from court filings. The person who called the police said they worried about Hoek because he had “started scaring him” and was “acting weird lately.” That person ended up obtaining no-trespass and no-contact orders against Hoek in January.

Hoek admitted to using drugs, particularly hydrocodone and marijuana. He also said he has panic attacks and anxiety that tend to play games with his memory. When they searched his car, officers found drug paraphernalia, including blunts, cold medicine, and THC vapes. They also discovered an unopened bottle of liquor and a bong outside the vehicle.

If a court finds Hoek guilty of the murder charge, he is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole or death. A judge could also slap him with a $50,000 fine. He’s facing up to two years in state prison and a fine of up to $4,000 for aggravated eluding.

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