State: Ex-police chief killed fiancee to collect insurance
Posted September 15
BURKE, S.D. — Prosecutors say a former South Dakota police chief killed his young fiancee to collect more than $900,000 in insurance money.
The Daily Republic (http://bit.ly/2cAeK3c ) reports the state's claim came during opening statements Wednesday in the trial of 64-year-old Russell Bertram in Burke. He is charged with first-degree murder in the October 2009 death of 26-year-old Leonila (lee-oh-NEE'-luh) Stickney, who was pregnant.
Prosecutors also argued that Bertram was jealous because he knew the unborn child couldn't be his because he had a vasectomy.
Bertram told authorities he was putting his shotgun into his truck after a hunting trip when the weapon fired accidentally, striking Stickney.
Defense attorney Mike Butler told the court the case was thoroughly investigated at the time and that authorities decided against arresting Bertram.