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Mitchell man who refused to comply with mask mandate at school board meeting found guilty

(KMIT – Mitchell, SD) A Mitchell man who did not comply with a mask mandate at a Mitchell School Board meeting in September 2020 and refused to leave when asked to do so was found guilty of entering or refusing to leave a property after notice.  41-year old Reed Bender was ordered to pay a $400 fine and court costs of $78.50.  Bender had gone through a three-day jury trial last year, which ended up in a hung jury.  Davison County State’s Attorney Jim Miskimins was not seeking jail time for Bender in the second trial.  His request for a second jury trial was denied, and his case was heard before Judge Kasey Sorenson.

Nine people, including Bender, testified in the trial, which lasted all day Tuesday.  Bender’s attorney, R. Shawn Tornow, said the Return To School Protocols set forth by the school board, which included the mask mandate, did not have the force of law.  He also said that a policy cannot be partially enforced, as it had not been enforced at prior meetings.  In his closing argument, Miskimins stated that Bender was offered a chance to put on a mask and remain at the meeting, but he refused.

Tornow informed Judge Sorenson that Bender intends to appeal the verdict.

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