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Two suspects charged in Johnson murder

RAPID CITY, S.D. - Two suspects have been arrested in the bludgeoning death of Wilbur G. Johnson, 42, a member of the Yankton Sioux tribe who was living in Rapid City. Both are charged with first-degree murder.

Johnson's body was found in an alley in the city's 500 block of East Monroe Street the morning of Dec. 22.

James Ray "Jamie" Howard, Rapid City, was arrested the next day and charged with first-degree murder. He was arraigned Dec. 26 and is being held on a $300,000 bond set by Magistrate Judge Michael O'Connor. Prosecutors asked for no bond.

Adrian Gilbert Black Bear, 23, Rapid City, the second suspect, was sought on a first-degree murder warrant until Dec. 27 when he was arrested without incident at a home in Wanblee. The Oglala Sioux Department of Public Safety, the FBI and BIA police arrested Black Bear on an outstanding warrant. He waived extradition to Pennington County where he is held in jail.

Even though there are no other suspects in the murder, Rapid City Police Detective Capt. Chris Grant said the investigation will continue. He said some individuals provided false or misleading information about the death.

Police accounts report that Johnson left a Rapid City bar near downtown with two individuals and was later beaten to death with a heavy, blunt object. Family members said witnesses reported Johnson was seen running away from two men after they left the bar.

Black Bear was arrested based on information provided by a variety of sources, Grant said. Law enforcement authorities searched throughout the Rapid City and Pine Ridge areas for Black Bear and asked the public to assist in his arrest.

Capt. Grant said the attack could have been a robbery because some of Johnson's personal property was missing. A more likely scenario may have been the result of a disagreement, authorities said. Capt. Grant said premeditation was a factor in the death.

If convicted of first-degree murder, both Howard and Black Bear could face the death penalty or life in prison.