RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP/KCAU) — A Rapid City man who pleaded guilty to fatally beating a retired teacher with a baseball bat has been sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Andrew Eastman, 31, was originally charged with murder and could have been sentenced to death if convicted, however in a deal with prosecutors last July, Eastman pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter.
Eastman was a work release prisoner at Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield when he walked away from his job at the Rapid City landfill, stole a truck, went to the home of Larry Mintzlaff, 64, and beat him to death with a baseball bat in June 2017.
Eastman said he had been drinking and went to Mintzlaff’s house to get a ride and doesn’t remember how the killing happened.
Eastman became a suspect after authorities found a letter he wrote to Mintzlaff in his home. Using Mintzlaff’s stolen credit cards and cell phone, police tracked Eastman down in New Mexico.
He was arrested after being found driving Mintzlaff’s stolen car in Albuquerque. Police also found a baseball bat and clothing covered in blood in the stolen car.