A Sioux Falls man was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly intentionally hitting and killing Moody County Deputy Sheriff Ken Prorok with a vehicle on Friday in the midst of a high-speed chase out of Madison and through Moody County.
Joseph Gene Hoek, 40, made his first court appearance in Moody County early Monday — with every bench in the courtroom full, lined with either law enforcement colleagues, family, friends or colleagues from county offices.
The defendant was held without bail on the felony murder charge.
Hoek was arrested Friday after hitting Prorok on state Highway 34 just east of Colman.
Madison police pursued Hoek after responding to a call of a man making homicidal threats.
But that arrest might not have come so quickly without the help of a critical eyewitness.
Tyler Kills A Hundred of Flandreau happened to be in the area as Prorok was laying down a spike strip. Kills A Hundred was waved through the scene only moments before Hoek came down the highway. Kills A Hundred told investigators he saw Hoek swerve and hit Prorok, and that it appeared intentional.
Without naming him, Moody County Sheriff Troy Wellman thanked Kills A Hundred for staying on the scene to do all he could to help save Prorok’s life and assist in the investigation.
“First of all, our deepest sympathies to the family and my heartfelt thank you to that witness. I know who you are, I appreciate what you did. I know you wish you could have done more but I want you to know that we all appreciate that you stopped to help, that you assisted in apprehending the individual that was just upstairs,” Wellman said, fighting back tears. “This is going to be a huge hole, not only for our office, but for our entire community and his entire family.”
Once help arrived on the scene, the affidavit says Kills A Hundred went back to his car and “followed Hoek who had fled on foot, ran him down and detained Hoek until officers were able to arrive and place handcuffs on Hoek.”
Hoek is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated eluding.
The premeditated murder charge is a class A felony and carries a maximum sentence of death or life without parole and up to a $50,000 fine, or both.
The aggravated eluding is a class 6 felony that carries a maximum sentence of two years in the state prison and up to a $4,000 fine, or both.
The defendant, the South Dakota Attorney General’s office reminded the public, is presumed innocent under the U.S. Constitution.
“These charges are based on the evidence including that set forth in the probable cause affidavit,” said Attorney General Marty Jackley, who was in Moody County for the hearing. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with Chief Deputy Prorok’s family. I appreciate the diligent investigation conducted by the DCI, the Highway Patrol, and local law enforcement agencies.”
Hoek does have a criminal history and the no-bond ruling was issued after the attorney general laid out his concerns for Hoek as a flight risk and ongoing danger to society.
Hoek’s preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 9 at 11 a.m.
A prayer service for Prorok will be held at the Chester Area High School Gym and Funeral Services at the Dakota Prairie Playhouse in Madison.