Grand Jury indicts Novak on first degree murder

A Sanborn County Grand Jury found enough evidence to indict Matthew Walter Novak on first degree murder, Monday morning in Woonsocket.

The grand jury also charged 33-year-old Novak with second degree murder and two counts of first degree manslaughter for the Aug. 31 death of Jennifer Ann Gibson, 26, of Woonsocket.

Jennifer Gibson and Matthew Novak in January of 2016 following the birth of their son.

Jennifer Gibson and Matthew Novak in January of 2016 following the birth of their son.

Novak, also of Woonsocket, will make his next court appearance Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 1:30 p.m. in the Sanborn County Courthouse, at which time he will be formally charged.

Novak was arrested the morning of Aug. 31 for the murder of Gibson, whose body was found in her home at 206 S. 3rd Ave., Woonsocket. Neighbors say Novak, Gibson and Gibson’s four young children lived in the home.

Authorities have not yet released the cause of death.

According to the indictment, the first degree murder charge states that “[Novak] did kill another human being … without authority of law and with a premeditated design to effect the death of Jennifer Ann Gibson.”

First degree murder is a Class A felony and carries a penalty of death or life imprisonment. A lesser sentence than death or life in prison may not be given and a fine of $50,000 may be imposed.

Second degree murder is a Class B felony and carries a minimum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of $50,000 may also be imposed.

The first degree manslaughter charges state that “he did kill another human being … without any design to effect the death of Jennifer Ann Gibson, in the heat of passion, but in a cruel or unusual manner” and “…by means of a dangerous weapon.”

Witnesses testifying at the grand jury were, Tyler Neuharth, Dr. Kenneth Snell, Russell Novak, Donald Novak, Dawn Novak, Jerauld County Sheriff Jason Weber and Sanborn County Deputy Jason Coenen.

Authorities from the Sanborn and Jerauld County sheriff’s offices, the Department of Criminal Investigation and the Highway Patrol locked down a block-wide area of the home the morning of Aug. 31, after local police received a call that an incident may have occurred at the residence.

Police were able to take Novak into custody a short time later, without further incident.

Novak is being held in the Beadle County Jail on a $350,000 bond. He has requested a court-appointed attorney and will be represented by Jeffrey Burns.

Sanborn County State’s Attorney Jeff Larson and Assistant Attorney General Brent Kempema are prosecuting the case.

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