Three young men charged with 1st Degree Murder made their initial appearance in Sheridan County Circuit Court on Thursday afternoon. The defendants are 19-year-old Dennis Poitra, 16-year-old Wyatt Bear Cloud, and 15-year-old Dharminder Vir Sen. Both Bear Cloud and Vir Sen are being charged as adults.
All three men were remanded to the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office after Judge John Sampson set a $200,000 cash only bond on each of them.
The State alleges that the defendants entered the home of Robert and Linda Ernst on Wednesday morning with the intent of committing a larceny. According to court documents, the defendants confronted 79-year-old Robert Ernst in his bedroom and he was shot three times. Ernst died later at Sheridan Memorial Hospital.
Poitra could be put to death or receive life in prison if convicted of the murder charge. Bear Cloud and Vir Sen would not be subject to the death penalty since they are under 18 years of age. They face up to life in prison without parole.
Preliminary hearings for the defendants will be scheduled in the next 10 days. If a judge finds there was a crime committed and the defendants probably did it, he will bind them over to district court for trial. The defendants will not enter a plea until their arraignment in District Court.
Despite being the youngest of the defendants, Vir Sen already has an extensive criminal history that spans two or three states.
Each of the defendants is also charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.