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Rapid City man receives 22-year sentence for 2020 killing

RAPID CITY—Lawrence Mexican, 31, earned a sentence for the beating death of Harry “Packy” Black Bear, 48, a homeless man who has been described as a leader in the homeless community.

Circuit Court Judge Matt Brown, who was overhearing the case, awarded Mexican 808 days for his time served, while his sentence will run consecutively to any federal sentence he may face. Mexican was on supervised release from a federal assault conviction. At the time of sentencing, Black Bear’s family was not present and the State’s Attorney’s office said they were unable to make it to the hearing. Folks who spoke to the Rapid City Journal, did mention that Black Bear was known as a kind person, a talented chef who was close with friends and family, who would literally give people the shirt off his back by donating clothing, jackets, food and anything else needed by others more than him. Cesca Black Bear, enrolled at Lower Brule, commented back in 2020 that, “(Black Bear) was a bright guy, he was funny.”

Mexican pled guilty on July 22 to first degree manslaughter as part of a plea deal, He was originally charged with second-degree murder for beating Black Bear to death. Black Bear was found at about 10pm on June 6, 2020 at the Palms Apartments in the 700 block of Meade Street.

Law enforcement would find Mexican the following morning in an area south of the Civic Center’s overflow parking lot, and observed blood on Mexican’s shoes and socks.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Conor Duffy, Mexican’s Defense Attorney, tried to point to Mexican’s life having been built around violence to the point violence conditions him to overreact. Duffy told of one incident when the five-year-old Mexican’s father passed out drunk on a waterbed. Mexican attempted to wake him up as a fire was spreading through the house. Unable to wake him, Mexican left the house, where two of his brothers were killed. His father would survive. Duffy would also talk about Mexican’s struggles with alcohol, school, and time in prison as a 5 foot, 6 inch Native American man, which led him to experience “constant, unending fear of race-based violence.”

While in prison, he had to be awake as soon as the lights were on, and to attack anyone who entered his cell, according to Duffy who said his client had to live by the rule of not leaving his cell without the accompaniment of another Native American for his own safety. Mexican, had been out on federal supervision for about a month before Black Bear’s death.

The circumstances that led up to Black Bear’s death began when Mexican arrived at an apartment, where he was locked out, and when Black Bear opened the door, Mexican punched him in the face. He continued to pummel him, kicking and punching him whenever he would move or make a noise. Even when Black Bear was no longer any threat, Mexican punched him. The actions, Judge Brown said, led to the death of Black Bear.

Brown did note Mexican’s childhood was traumatic, and that in referencing the pre-sentencing investigation, Mexican even noted “I grew up violent, there was blood everywhere.” Which was normal to him.

Mexican interjected, in the courtroom, and said “I didn’t say it was normal I said it seemed normal.”

The judge did read a letter Mexican had written, expressing his remorse and saying he feels he doesn’t deserve to live and that his “heart and spirit are shattered.” Brown did feel that Mexican is sincere and remorseful.

After the sentence was announced, Mexican’s mother stood up and tried to hug him, but a deputy pulled him away. As he walked out of the courtroom, he did get to say to his mother, “I’ll be alright.”

(Contact Joseph Budd at



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