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State to pursue death penalty against man charged in deputy's death

The state of South Dakota plans to pursue the death penalty against the man accused of killing a Moody County sheriff’s deputy during a pursuit.

Joseph Hoek is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Chief Deputy Ken Prorok.

The charge stems from an incident on Highway 34 near Madison on Feb. 2. Prosecutors say Hoek was leading authorities on a high-speed chase when he struck and killed Prorok.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Marty Jackley announced the state is seeking the death penalty in the case.

“This is a decision that is never taken lightly,” Jackley said. “Based upon the aggravating circumstances of this case, we believe it is appropriate.”

Jackley cited two factors that justify the death penalty under state law:

-That Hoek committed first-degree murder while Deputy Prorok was engaged in the performance of his official duties

-That Hoek committed first-degree murder for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing a lawful arrest of Hoek

“If a jury finds the defendant guilty of first degree Murder, it will be the state’s intention to offer evidence to the jury that will prove that one or both of these aggravating circumstances have been met,” Jackley said.

Hoek has pleaded not guilty. His next court appearance is June 20.