In this Sept. 19, 2011 photo, Amanda Kaur walks from the Pennington County Jail to the Pennington County Courthouse in Rapid City, S.D. A judge has refused to reduce the 65-year prison sentence of Kaur, who shot her husband twice in the head three years ago. (Ryan Soderlin / AP)
RAPID CITY, S.D. — A judge has refused to reduce the 65-year prison sentence of a New Underwood woman who shot her husband twice in the head three years ago.
Amanda Kaur, 30, initially was charged with murder in the November 2010 death of Ira Kaur, 26, an airman at Ellsworth Air Force Base. She eventually pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter — sparing her from a possible death sentence — but she still was given the lengthy prison term.
In court on Thursday Kaur repeated her claim that her husband was suicidal and the gun he held went off when she struggled to take it away from him.
Her attorney, Patrick Duffy, said the sentence will keep his client in prison until she is 59. Kaur must serve at least half of her sentence, which Duffy said is well beyond the state average of 12 years for similar manslaughter convictions and far more time than a sentence in federal court, where the maximum for manslaughter is 15 years.
Duffy told Circuit Judge Robert Mandel that Kaur has made remarkable progress in prison, completing several courses and training sessions. A reduction in her sentence would be a reward for that progress, he said.
Pennington County Chief Deputy State's Attorney Lara Roetzel said the sentence Kaur received in September 2011 from now-retired Circuit Judge John Delany was what she bargained for with prosecutors.
Roetzel also said Kaur had spent part of the morning her husband died searching online for advice on how to shoot someone in the head or slit someone's throat.
"This was a heinous case," Roetzel said.
Mandel noted in denying Kaur's request for a lesser sentence that she had bought the gun the previous day at a pawn shop, and that a second shot was fired into Ira Kaur's head.
"The bottom line is the second shot was not necessary," Mandel said.