Paul Jensen & Shawn Springer

Murderers: Paul Dean Jensen Jr., 14, & Shawn Cameron Springer, 16

Victim: Michael Hare, 28

Crime location: Pierre, South Dakota

Crime date: January 26, 1996

Weapon: Handgun

Murder method: Three gunshots at close range–one shot to the chest and two to the head

Convictions: Springer–guilty plea to kidnapping; Jensen–Convicted at trial of first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, first-degree robbery, aiding and abetting grand theft, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery

Sentences: Springer-261 years with parole eligibility in 33 years; Jensen-life without parole (LWOP) later reduced to 200 years

Incarceration status: Springer & Jensen are incarcerated at the Mike Durfee State Prison and Jensen is eligible for initial parole in 2021 while Springer is eligible in 2029


On that fateful winter night, Mike, a taxi-driver, picked up two teenage males who had called for a ride. The teens, Shaun Springer and Paul Jensen, went on to rob Mike of 30 dollars at gunpoint. Jensen then ordered Mike out of the vehicle and fatally shot him three times at close range, ignoring Mike’s pleas for his life. Springer pleaded guilty to kidnapping and agreed to testify against Jensen. Jensen was convicted at trial. Both offenders are now in prison and will be eligible for parole.

SD Supreme Court Upholds Paul Dean Jensen's 200-Year Sentence | SDPB Radio
Springer, in prison for kidnapping in 1996 murder of Pierre cab driver,  seeking new sentence. | Local News Stories |
Mike Hare | National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers


12-13-13 PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota judge has granted a resentencing hearing for a man serving a life prison sentence for killing a cab driver near Fort Pierre nearly 18 years ago.

Paul Dean Jensen Jr., of Pierre, was 14 at the time Michael Hare was slain. Jensen argued that his sentence is illegal under a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that banned mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles.

Defense attorney Jeff Larson said during Friday’s hearing that the case involves correcting the sentence, not changing the conviction.

But prosecutor Tom P. Maher said Jensen’s sentence was lawful in 1996 and remains lawful today.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year said life sentences without parole for juveniles cannot be automatic, but left open the possibility that judges could still sentence juveniles to life without parole after considering the circumstances of each case.

State prosecutors have argued that the Supreme Court ruling does not apply retroactively to cases such as Jensen’s.

However, Circuit Judge John Brown said he felt compelled by the Supreme Court ruling to allow a resentencing in Jensen’s case. A hearing date will be set later.

Prosecutors have said Jensen and Shawn Cameron Springer, who was 16 at the time, had Hare drive them out of town and then robbed him before shooting him to death. Prosecutors said Jensen pulled the trigger.

Springer was sentenced to 261 years in prison after pleading guilty to kidnapping, and a judge in June refused to reduce his sentence.

SD man challenges life sentence for murder


FORT PIERRE, S.D. — A South Dakota man is asking to be resentenced for a slaying committed when he was 14 years old, prompted by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that banned mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles

Paul Dean Jensen Jr., of Pierre, was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole after he was convicted of murder, kidnapping, robbery and other offenses for the 1996 killing of cab driver Michael Hare near Fort Pierre. Jensen, now 31, argues that his sentence is illegal under last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The Supreme Court said life sentences without parole for juveniles cannot be automatic, but it left open the possibility that judges could still sentence juveniles to life without parole after considering the circumstances of each case.

Acting as his own lawyer, Jensen filed a 28-page, mostly handwritten motion asking that his sentence be declared illegal so he can be resentenced. He also asked that a lawyer be appointed to represent him in the case.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said he believes that under state law the U.S. Supreme Court ruling does not apply retroactively to Jensen’s case and two other cases in which juvenile offenders were sentenced to life without parole. Even if the decision does apply retroactively, Jensen’s prison term is unlikely to be affected because he also is serving a life sentence for kidnapping that was set at the trial judge’s discretion, he said.

At Jackley’s urging, the Legislature this year changed the law that had required life sentences without parole for juveniles convicted of murder. In the future, judges will have discretion to impose sentences of up to life after considering the facts of each case, Jackley said.

Stanley County State’s Attorney Tom P. Maher declined to comment until he files a written response to Jensen’s request. Maher, who was not the county prosecutor when Jensen was convicted and sentenced, said he is going through three boxes of records from the 1996 case.

Prosecutors said Jensen and Shawn Cameron Springer, who was 16 at the time, had Hare drive them out of town and they robbed him of$36.48 before shooting him to death. Prosecutors said Jensen pulled the trigger. Springer was sentenced to 261 years in prison after pleading guilty to kidnapping, and a judge last month refused to reduce his sentence.

In the motion filed in circuit court, Jensen said that the U.S. Supreme Court and various studies have found that 14-year-olds are immature, impulsive and susceptible to pressure from others. He said 14-year-olds also are more likely than older criminals to be rehabilitated, but his mandatory life sentence would require him to die in prison.

“A typical fourteen-year-old who acts irresponsibly in reaction to a thrilling impulse or succumbs to peer pressure is not irretrievably depraved or permanently flawed. Nothing about his character is permanent, and he has years of development ahead, during which he can (and, in most cases, will) grow into a moral, law-abiding adult,” Jensen wrote.

However, when a trial judge sentenced Jensen, he cautioned everyone to take Jensen seriously because he had talked about killing other people.

And when the South Dakota Supreme Court upheld Jensen’s convictions and sentences in 1998, the justices said the punishment fit the crime.

“The evidence shows that Jensen shot the victim once in the chest, listened to the victim plead for his life on his knees, and then proceeded to shoot the man two more times in the head,” the state’s highest court said.

SD Judge Upholds Sentence In Cab Driver Killing

June 28, 2013, FORT PIERRE, SD – 

A South Dakota judge has upheld the 261-year prison sentence given to a Minnesota man who was 16 when he was involved in the 1996 kidnapping and murder of a Pierre taxicab driver.

Shawn Cameron Springer, who is now 34, pleaded guilty in 1996 to kidnapping for his role in the robbery and killing of Michael Hare.

Springer will be eligible for parole in 2029, but there is no guarantee he will be released then. He argued his 261-year prison sentence amounts to a life sentence in practice, so it would be struck down. He asked to be resentenced.

But after a brief hearing, Circuit Judge Kathleen Trandahl refused to set aside Springer’s sentence, saying it was legal.

South Dakota v. Jensen


[¶2.] On January 14, 1996, 14-year-old Jensen and 16-year-old Shawn Springer carried out their plan to rob a taxi driver in Pierre, South Dakota. Armed with a gun and fitted with bandanas to cover their faces, Jensen and Springer called for a taxi to pick them up in the back parking lot of a local hotel. The taxi company dispatched driver Michael Hare to the hotel. Hare parked and waited in the front parking lot, just outside the hotel’s entrance. Jensen and Springer realized that the taxi was not going to pick them up in the rear parking lot and decided that they could not keep their faces covered with bandanas if they entered the taxi in front of the hotel. Jensen and Springer uncovered their faces, entered the taxi, and directed Hare to drive them to Fort Pierre.

Shortly thereafter, Hare stopped the taxi on a gravel road outside Fort Pierre. Jensen pointed a gun at Hare, and Springer and Jensen demanded that Hare give them all his money. Hare insisted that he only had $30 and gave the money to Jensen and Springer. Jensen got out of the taxi with the gun drawn and ordered Hare to exit the vehicle. Hare begged for his life. Jensen shot Hare three times and walked back toward the taxi. Jensen grabbed Hare’s billfold, which had been placed on the hood of the taxi. Jensen got into the passenger’s seat, and Springer, who had already relocated to the driver’s seat, began to drive away. Law enforcement learned of the robbery while Jensen and Springer were leaving the scene and located the taxi being driven by Springer. A high-speed chase ensued but ended when Springer drove the taxi into a snowbank. The officers arrested Jensen and Springer.

In August 1996, Springer pleaded guilty to kidnapping and agreed to testify against Jensen. The sentencing court sentenced Springer to 261 years in prison. Jensen, after being transferred to adult court, pleaded not guilty. On October 4, 1996, a jury found Jensen guilty of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree felony murder, first-degree robbery, aiding and abetting grand theft, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery. Only his convictions for first-degree murder and kidnapping are relevant in this appeal. For those convictions, the sentencing court imposed concurrent sentences of mandatory life in prison. We affirmed Jensen’s convictions and sentences in State v. Jensen, 1998 S.D. 52, 579 N.W.2d 613.

After the United States Supreme Court issued Miller, 567 U.S. 460, 132 S. Ct. 2455, Jensen filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence. The circuit court granted Jensen’s motion and held a resentencing hearing on June 2-3, 2016. At the hearing, both the State and Jensen presented expert testimony on the mitigating qualities of Jensen’s youth, namely evidence related to Jensen’s childhood and Jensen’s emotional, social, psychological, and intellectual attributes as a juvenile offender. The parties also presented expert testimony on Jensen’s changed, matured character as an adult. The State presented evidence regarding Jensen’s potential for release under the parole system in effect at the time of his crimes, referred to as the “old system.” The current parole system provides presumptive release to offenders; the old system used a discretionary system. The State’s witnesses described the old parole system and explained what factors the parole board would typically consider before releasing a prisoner into the community.

At the conclusion of the resentencing hearing, the court orally sentenced Jensen to 200 years in prison for both first-degree murder and kidnapping and ordered the sentences to run concurrently. Jensen would be eligible for discretionary parole at age 39 and for parole based on good-time credit at age 116.

Jensen gets life sentence cut to 200 years; parole possible in 5 years in 1996 Fort Pierre cabdriver murder

Jun 3, 2016

The man who murdered Michael Hare outside a taxicab  20 years ago on a winter road outside Fort Pierre will be eligible for parole in five years, under terms of a new sentence pronounced Friday.

 After a two-day re-sentencing hearing in Fort Pierre, state Judge John Brown reduced Paul Dean Jensen Jr’s 1996 sentence of life without parole to 200 years in prison.

Under the “old system” of figuring prison sentences in South Dakota that changed just five months after Jensen executed Hare at close range with one shot to the chest and two to his head, Jensen  will be up for parole in the summer of 2021 under the 200-year sentence, court officers and a state prison official said.

Convicted of Hare’s murder and kidnapping, as well as stealing his yellow taxi and the $30.48 in his pockets, Jensen, then 14 but tried as an adult, was sentenced in November 1996 to the mandatory sentence for such a premeditated murder: life without parole.

 Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, however, require states to offer re-sentencing hearings to anyone sentenced as a juvenile to such mandatory life-without-parole prison terms.

 Under the old sentencing guidelines which changed in July 1996 – five months after Jensen’s offense which makes the old system apply –  a convict’s sentence was figured by subtracting upfront all possible “good time,” of five months to six months per year.

That means Jensen, even if he never wins parole, would be released in July 2097, assuming he doesn’t lose any of this time-off for good behavior already cooked into the new 200-year sentence and that he lived to the age of 115.

He’s up for parole in the summer of 2021, although the state parole board rarely grants parole on the first opportunity, court watchers say.

Jensen’s accomplice, Shawn Cameron Springer, was 16 at the time and pleaded guilty in 1996 to kidnapping Hare, receiving a sentence of 261 years. Springer lost an appeal of his sentence in 2013 and won’t be eligible for parole until 2029.

Hare’s family members were not pleased with Brown’s judgment Friday on Jensen’s fate.

“It’s the worst sentence I’ve ever seen in my life,” Jamie Hare, Michael Hare’s older brother who is Walworth County state’s attorney in Selby, told the Capital Journal in an angry voice as he left the Stanley County courthouse after Brown’s ruling about 4:30 p.m., Friday. “It’s a travesty. I guess a human life doesn’t mean much. He gets up for parole in five years. That’s all I have to say.”

Jensen’s mother, Sherilyn Jensen, of Story City, Iowa, said, “We just keep dealing with it and healing. Pray and keep the light going,” she said. “I never expected him to walk out of here. We knew and everyone knew that wasn’t what would happen, or even what would be in Paul’s best interest. “

Her son, born when she was 16 and only weeks after her husband and his father, Paul Jensen, hung himself, needs a lot of help before he’s ready for any life outside prison, where he’s been since he was 15, she said. “He’s never even driven a car.”

Judge Brown said Friday while pronouncing the new sentence that nobody expected him to re-sentence Jensen to another life term. Although he said there would be a certain symmetry in giving Jensen the same 261 years his accomplice Springer received, Brown pronounced 200 years as Jensen’s new sentence.

About a dozen witnesses testified over the two-day hearing, including family and friends of Jensen and of Hare, as well as expert mental health experts for each side.

Jensen, in his court filings and through his attorney, Jeff Larson, argued that at 14, he was a victim off peer pressure and a dysfunctional family when he murdered Hare.

In his closing statement Friday, Larson said the U.S Supreme Court in recent rulings has said that juveniles who commit heinous crimes should not be judged by the same measure as adults and must be given a chance to show they have changed, become better people and amenable to rehabilitation and escaping from a life sentence in prison.

After Brown’s sentence was pronounced, Larson declined to comment, saying he never comments to the media on his cases.

Jensen, during his allocution, in which he could tell the court why he deserved a lesser sentence, asked Brown if he could turn and address Hare’s family.

Brown said he could.

Hardly able to speak, from his crying and taking gulps of air, Jensen said a few sentences between long pauses. “I don’t  really know how to begin,” he said, half turning to look at Hare’s brother and sister and others, unable or unwilling to look at them for more than a moment before lowering his head.  “I’m sorry. I don’t know what I can do. . . There’s nothing I can do. . . I can’t take back that day . .  I can’t give back Michael. . . I wish it would have been different.”

Despite saying this was his first chance in 20 years to express his remorse to Hare’s family, Jensen didn’t seem to have prepared much to say. He didn’t appear to have any written statement.  He attempted to rebut testimony from Hare’s sister and brother who said he lacked remorse and any concern for Hare or his family members and still posed a threat to society. Jensen said redemption is possible, even for him.

“I know you said some things are just broken . . .  But God uses broken things . . . I was broken as a child . . .I’m sorry for what I’ve taken from you.“

He stopped to take a drink of water, seemingly out of breath.

He spent time explaining why he hadn’t tried to contact Hare’s family and why he wrote the letter he did recently, a letter that was dismissed by Hare’s siblings during their testimony as too little, too late.

 “I m sorry for the pain I have caused you all . . . I’m sorry. . . I know I can’t make you believe me . .  There’s nothing I can do to take back that night. No way I can go back and change things. If I could I would, I really would.”

After about nine minutes, in which mostly he seemed to be searching for words or just finding the breath to speak, Jensen told Judge Brown he was finished with his statement.

Tom P. Maher, Stanley County state’s attorney, was assisted in the two-day hearing by Assistant Attorney General Robert Mayer, who helped prosecute Jensen in 1996.

During his closing statement, Maher said Jensen appears to be the same cold, callous murderer as he appeared in 1996, smirking at his arresting officers, refusing to tell them where Hare’s body was, denying he had a gun, more interested in his dog than in Hare.

“Shame on him,” Maher said. Maher said even on Friday Jensen didn’t seem able to admit what he had done, referring to Hare’s brother, Jamie Hare, addressing Jensen from the witness stand: “’Tell me that you murdered my brother, tell me that he’s a human.’”

Maher said in a dismissive tone about Jensen’s own statement in court: “Well, you heard his apology.”

Even in Jensen’s recent three-page letter to the court, “He’s still blaming other people, his mom and sister were rushing him that night, that the victim caused his own death,” Maher said.

Jensen in 1996 and more recently, has said Hare wouldn’t stop moving toward him that night, so he shot him, as if it was Hare’s fault, Maher said.

While Springer acknowledged guilt back in 1996, “Paul was not remorseful and even today he has not demonstrated an acceptance of responsibility.”

Jensen will be kept in the Hughes County jail in Pierre until Tuesday when the next transport is available to return him to the state prison in Sioux Falls.

Dawnita Forell, the taxi company owner who dispatched Michael Hare to pick up Jensen and Springer Jan. 26, 1996 at the Days Inn in Pierre and who testified she felt like she had sent him to his death, shrugged about his new sentence, obviously not pleased.

“It is what it is. I just hope in five years he doesn’t get out and come back and kill me.”

Springer, in prison for kidnapping in 1996 murder of Pierre cab driver, seeking new sentence.

July 2, 2018 

State Judge John Brown denied a bid by convicted kidnapper Shawn Springer who is seeking a reduction in his 261-year sentence for his role in the 1996 murder of taxi driver Michael Hare just north of Fort Pierre on a winter road.

Springer, who turned 39 in April, becomes eligible for parole in January 2029, 33 years after his crime.

He was 16 and Paul Jensen was 14 on that cold night Jan. 26, 1996, when they called Capital City taxi service in Pierre and Hare picked them up in the big yellow Checker cab and drove where they said.

Jensen had stolen a handgun a couple nights before and using it, took all Hare’s money — $30.48 — and then his life, gunning him down on a gravel road while Hare’s asked to be left alive.

After being charged with murder and kidnapping and other felonies, Springer took a deal from prosecutors and pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping and testified against Jensen.

Springer was sentenced to 261 years in prison with parole possible after 33 years.

Jensen went to trial and a jury found him guilty of murder and kidnapping and other crimes and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that juveniles sentenced to life without parole, Jensen appealed. He was re-sentenced in 2016 by Judge Brown to 200 years, with parole eligibility possible as early as 2022 when he would be 39 years. Jensen appealed that decision and the state Supreme Court in 2017 denied it.

Springer, seeing what happened with Jensen’s sentence for murder, compared with his for kidnapping, has been seeking a new hearing for a new sentence.

His attorney, Brad Schreiber, told Brown on Monday in a courtroom in Pierre he was seeking records from the state Department of Corrections to help make his argument that Springer deserves a new sentencing hearing largely because of the big change in Jensen’s sentence two years ago.

“The outcome of that case and (Jensen’s)appeal to the Supreme Court , in my opinion, may have an impact on the sentence that Mr. Springer was originally given in this case,” Schreiber said.

Prison officials have refused to provide Springer and Schreiber with all the records which could be important to use if Springer gets a new sentencing hearing, Schreiber said.

Tom Maher, the Stanley County state’s attorney, who opposed Jensen’s re-sentencing in 2016, on Monday opposed Springer getting a new sentencing hearing.

“I think he wants a redo because Jensen got his sentence was redone,” Maher told Brown.

But Jensen’s re-sentencing was a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Miller decision which had to do with juveniles sentenced to life-without-parole, Maher said.

Springer’s case does not “fit” the Supreme Court’s Miller case because he received a parole date and was sentenced to “years,” not life, is Maher’s argument, one backed by judges’ decisions previously.