- Associated Press - Saturday, March 19, 2016

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A Rapid City man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing his roommate with repeated hammer blows.

Anthony Smith, 21, was sentenced Friday in the February 2015 killing of 57-year-old Farrel Phelps. Smith had pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter; he was originally charged with second-degree murder.

Prosecutor Josh Hendrickson recommended that Smith be given a life sentence. He said that Smith struck Phelps with a 10-inch hammer 58 times, including 36 times in the head.

At Phelps’ funeral, family members couldn’t distinguish his face because of his injuries, said Charlene Phelps, Farrel Phelps’ younger sister.

The level of violence was something that “not even law enforcement involved in this case has seen before,” Hendrickson told Judge Craig Pfeifle.

Smith’s defense lawyer, Ellery Grey, recommended a 25-year sentence. If Smith were given an “extremely long sentence,” Grey said his client would end up becoming “institutionalized” by the time he is released from prison.

For a year before the killing, Phelps allowed Smith to stay at his home, the Phelps family said. Prior to that, Smith had been living on the streets, the victim’s sister, Charlene Phelps told the Rapid City Journal (bit.ly/1XCJ3aQ).

Phelps said her brother met Smith on the streets of Rapid City.

“I think he really took him as a nephew, because he has a lot of nephews,” she said. “And he felt sorry for him and didn’t want him to be homeless.”

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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