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Davidson pleads not guilty to murder

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. -- The man accused of killing a Mitchell woman in March pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and other charges against him.

Kent Gene Davidson, 36, is accused of killing Crystal Schulz, 26, on March 11. The two were engaged to be married, according to their Facebook pages. Her body was found March 14 in a shed at her mother's residence in rural Chamberlain.

Davidson was arraigned Monday afternoon at the Brule County Courthouse. Brule County sheriff's deputies escorted him into the courtroom on the second floor of the building. He was shackled and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit with a white bulletproof vest under a dark blue hooded sweatshirt.

Schulz's family, including her mother Aggie Clement and brother Austin Schulz, sat in the second row in the courtroom.

Davidson was indicted in March on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter. A fourth charge alleges Davidson possessed a firearm while committing a felony.

Judge Bruce Anderson apprised Davidson of his rights Monday, and Davidson requested a court-appointed attorney. Anderson appointed Sioux Falls attorney Clint Sargent to continue representing Davidson.

As Brule County State's Attorney David Natvig read the indictment, Davidson kept his eyes on the defendant's table and often clenched his jaw. During the proceeding and as he left the courtroom, Davidson did not glance at Schulz's family.

Last week, a five-year prison sentence was reimposed on Davidson for his failure to return to a minimum-security facility where he was living while on parole last year. It was after he absconded from parole that, according to his Facebook page and Schulz's, the two became engaged.

Conviction on a first-degree murder charge carries a punishment of no less than life in prison and possibly death. A second-degree murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Manslaughter carries a maximum punishment of life in prison.

Davidson has ties to Beach and Dickinson.