Trace O'Connell trial begins

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Opening statements and testimony were heard on Wednesday in day one of the two–day trial in which a Philip man is accused of using racial slurs and pouring beer on a group of students from American Horse School in Allen.

The defendant, Trace O'Connell, faces one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct from an alleged incident that took place at a Rapid City Rush hockey game on January 24th.

Chase Iron Eyes says, "I believe there are certain things that you have to stand up and make a statement about that, because that impacts the social political culture of South Dakota and Rapid City, and we all need to stand together on this and tell the world, because the world's eyes are on Rapid City, South Dakota."

In opening statements, Rapid City Attorney Joel Landeen said a group of men from Philip made comments to children from American Horse School attending the January hockey game, such as, "Cheer louder, you're from the reservation," and said one even "held beer over a child's head and asked if she wanted a drink."
Defense attorney Mike Butler said the evidence will NOT show a threat was made that night, he said a goal was scored, people were excited and beer was sprayed out of celebration.
Three detectives from the Rapid City Police Department took the stand on Wednesday.
Detective Elliot Harding testified that he interviewed Trace O'Connell days after the alleged incident.

Harding said O'Connell told him he had spilled beer in the third period after the Rush scored a goal and threw his hand in the air and beer came out of the bottle.
He said O'Connell had mentioned he was upset that the group from Allen didn't respect the flag during the National Anthem and didn't show respect during a cancer survivor presentation, but said he never heard any racial comments and wouldn't intentionally spill beer on children.
Harding also said police interviewed the children a couple of weeks later.
They showed them six photographic line–ups where multiple children were able to pick out O'Connell as the one who had spilled the beer.
29–year old Brit Miller from Philip says he was with O'Connell on the night in question, in the Eagle Sales Suite where they consumed alcohol all night.

He said he himself had a positive interaction with the children and was giving them high fives and having fun.
He said he witnessed O'Connell getting excited after the goal and spun his hand in a roping motion when the beer in his hand spilled.
Miller said he was shocked when he saw the students leave the game early and was very disturbed with the information that came out days after.
Multiple children also took the stand ranging in age from 10 to 15.
Each of them had said they heard racial comments from the men above them and felt droplets of beer spilled on them after a goal was scored.
Judge Eric Strawn has already taken jail time off the table, so O'Connell is facing up to a $500 fine.

Court is in recess, but the trial continues on Thursday.
This is a trial by the court, meaning the judge will decide O'Connell's guilt or innocence, not a jury.
We'll, of course, have more details from the courtroom on Thursday on The SIX and on Black Hills FOX News at Nine.