Name: Arick Johnathon Strauser
Murderers: Wilson Deontrez Hughes, 16, and several others
Crime date: July 22, 2016
Crime location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Arick was born on November 8, 1997, to mother Aimee Strauser. He was raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The 18-year-old enjoyed welding, fishing, swimming, playing basketball, and listening to music. Arick planned on attending college and aspired to become an underwater welder.
Summary of the crime
Hughes and several other teenage assailants beat Arick to death.
On July 23, 2016, Arick was brutally beaten to death by a gang of over a half dozen teens, including Hughes. Hughes punched Arick 10-12 times in the face and then kicked him in the ribs after he fell to the ground. He continued kicking Arick as he lay unresponsive. Arick suffered a burn and many contusions, abrasions, and lacerations. The beating left him unrecognizable. The gang tried to stuff Arick in a garbage can, but he wouldn’t fit. They ended up leaving him under the garbage can, but returned multiple times over the next couple hours. Hughes ran over Arick with a bike and another assailant urinated on his face. Arick died of atlanto-occipital dislocation, otherwise known as internal decapitation–he suffered so much blunt force that his skull was separated from his neck. The perpetrators later posted a video of Arick’s beating to SnapChat.
Hughes pled guilty to first degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 50 years in prison with 20 years suspended. When sentencing Hughes, the judge heard about his rough upbringing. Aimee responded by noting that people who have faced similar circumstances did not end up “murdering somebody.” She also said: “Free will is a choice in this life, you want to have a life, I’m sure my son wanted to have a life too.”
Hughes later requested a sentence modification, which Aimee called “a slap in the face” to her son. “Sitting here listening to how great Wilson is doing…got me thinking how great Arick’s life would be,” Aimee said.”Seems like Arick got swept under the rug. Where do we get to petition to get out of the hell we’re in?” The judge ruled that Hughes hadn’t matured enough to get a new sentence.
Written by an NOVJM volunteer.