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Ravnsborg Kills Man, Gets Misdemeanor Charges for Phoning and Swerving

Five months ago, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg killed Joe Boever. Two months ago, killer Ravnsborg shrugged and said, “I believe I have not committed any crime.”

Ravnsborg was wrong, but in eyes of his friends in South Dakota law enforcement, only slightly. Ravnsborg’s USD Law School classmate and Hyde County deputy state’s attorney Emily Sovell today announced she’s charging Ravnsborg with three crimes… not one of which is based on the fact that he killed a man:

Ravnsborg will face charges for operating a vehicle while using his cellphone, failure to keep his car in its travel lane, and careless driving. Each is a class 2 misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

…At a Thursday’s news conference, Sovell, who was joined by Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore said she found that Ravnsborg’s conduct did not meet the high threshold to charge him with a felony, either vehicular homicide or second-degree manslaughter [Christopher Vondracek and Jeremy Fugleberg, “South Dakota’s Attorney General Charged in Crash That Killed Pedestrian,” Dickinson Press, 2021.02.18].

Vondracek and Fugleberg report that Jenny Boever, Joe’s widow, has enlisted prominent Sioux Falls lawyer Scott Heidepriem to sue Ravnsborg’s sorry ass. But watch out: Ravnsborg, who remains free and at large, suggests that the terrible ordeal he has suffered has made him a better lawyer:

I appreciate, more than ever, that the presumption of innocence placed within our legal system continues to work. I have always practiced this in my professional life and I understand it even better now as I see that we live in a society where every person enjoys the protection of the law [Jason Ravnsborg, statement to press, quoted in “South Dakota AG Ravnsborg Charged with Careless Driving in Fatal Crash,” KSFY, 2021.02.18].

Good grief: even Bill Janklow, a much more effective politician and lawyer than Jason Ravnsborg ever could have been, got a felony conviction and a hundred days in jail and lost his job and his law license (for a little while) when he killed a man by driving like an idiot. The family of the man Janklow killed also got a one-million-dollar settlement (paid for by the taxpayers).

I yield the floor to the universal disgust that should drive this killer from public office.


  1. mike from iowa 2021-02-18

    He left the scene of a personal injury accident, whether he knew it or not. All lives do not matter! Condolences to Boever family, again.

  2. Willy 2021-02-18

    This is so horrifying and not surprising at all. Typical Republican behavior.

  3. grudznick 2021-02-18

    grudznick is indeed disgusted.

    Let us hope Mr. Heidepriem, he being a former Republican and current libbie filled with seething rage, does indeed sue Mr. Ravnsborg’s “sorry ass” super hard and is very, very successful. Will this open the door for Fitz?

  4. Dicta 2021-02-18

    I dont think available evidence supports the claim that his actions rose to the level of recklessness, as the statute requires. He should still resign. His negligence killed a man.

  5. Bob Newland 2021-02-18

    The acknowledged-by-investigators account of his actions when called to the scene of a car-disabling collision near Highmore SD indicts Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek.

    He didn’t administer a blood alcohol test. If a law enforcement officer (LEO) is summoned to an accident, and if the apparent damage will exceed $1000 to repair (a good key swipe will achieve that level), then it is routine for LEOs to administer a BAC (blow in the tube).

    He didn’t even perform a cursory search for the “deer” Ravnsborg hit. A dead man was lying about 100 feet from the SoDak Attorney General’s car. The body was within feet of the bare strip of asphalt lying in clipped grass. I don’t think Volek even shined a light down the road to see what he could see. I don’t think he gave a f—.

    Tom Lawrence’s story adds flesh to my opinion, which is just based on the reported facts.

  6. kj trailer trash 2021-02-18

    No justice until his cell phone records are released which would tell us if Attorney General Forehead spent a bunch of time at a watering hole before hitting the road, and if he was texting during the time when he was at the crime scene.

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-02-18

    What did you expect, a Republican in charge would be charged? He ran over a Democrat folks.

  8. T 2021-02-18

    Agree w kJ why is everyone protecting him that was at the party where is the bartender in all of this????

  9. Robert Kolbe 2021-02-18

    May be the AG was watching
    on his cell phone?!

  10. ds 2021-02-18

    Well just like Mitch McConnell verified D. Trump is certainly subject to civil charges for inciting the US Capitol riot and insurrection, so also J. Ravnsborg is subject to civil charges in the death of Joe Boever. So perhaps justice will prevail.
    Just wondering what ‘locked’ cellphones and ‘unlocked’ cellphones could mean…can a vehicle driver lock and unlock cellphones while driving without being distracted?? I wold suggest that is certainly going to be presented as evidence during any civil trial.

  11. mike from iowa 2021-02-18

    ICYMI Former Kansas Sinator Bob Dole has stage 4 lung cancer. He was a decent sorf for a wingnut, at one time. Sorry about OT, but this is not shaping up tgo be a red letter week for wingnuts and magats.

  12. Arlo 2021-02-18

    well….It would require courage and a commitment to the rule of law to have interpreted the circumstances of this crime as a felonious taking of a life.Obviously neither was applied here to the chief law enforcement officer of South Dakota. It is an outrage. Some lives matter so much more than others, including Mr. Boever.

  13. Mike Livingston 2021-02-18

    32-23-1.2. Submission to breath test required by officer–Chemical test after positive breath test.
    Every person operating a vehicle which has been involved in an accident or which is operated in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall, at the request of a law enforcement officer, submit to a breath test to be administered by such officer. If such test indicates that such operator has consumed alcohol, the law enforcement officer may require such operator to submit to a chemical test in the manner set forth in this chapter.
    Source: SL 1973, ch 195, § 11; SL 2006, ch 168, § 3.
    I believe that the sheriff was duty bound to administer the breath test.

  14. RST Tribal Member at 57572 2021-02-18

    Getting involve with white-on-white crimes isn’t for the faint of heart, especially when it is an affluent against a not-so-affluent committed crime. For the victim’s family, the wheels of justice have been spinning way too slow… now, it seems the wheels just spun off the judicial vehicle. As is often the case, justice goes to the affluent. Injustice is experienced by the less than affluent. Affluent has power, money, status, influence, friends, and place. Lady Justice wears a blindfold, on the other hand, law enforcement investigates with eyes wide open. After months of looking into what charges to bring against the affluent accused, law enforcement fell in line with the 1 party leadership in Pierre and Washington… all the evidence and behaviors are there, they just cannot bring themselves to burden the plutocratic with any serious charges. Justice lite in action… a human life taken. Sad day for the family. Sad day for South Dakota.

  15. grudznick 2021-02-18

    I wish they had, Mr. Livingingston, just to quiet those with Drunk Derangement Syndrome, but you are wrong. The cop has to, in his discretion, “request.” grudznick hisownself has been involved in a few accidents over the decades and the cops had no reason to have me breathe my foul breath into their machines.

    Mr. Ravnsborg was not drunk. I doubt he had even had anything to drink. He probably wasn’t toking the demon weed in his car, nor sucking on an Ifrit’s Portable Bong ™. Get past it.

    He was doing something else we don’t fully know yet that caused him to drive off the road and over Mr. Boever. And Mr. Ravnsborg should pay, very very dearly, with his job and his money and perhaps his freedom. But he wasn’t drunk.

  16. Mike Livingston 2021-02-18

    Crud: you are apparently unable read and comprehend the codified law I cited, mox nix to me. While you are trying to muddy the water by trolling in your republicant swamp why don’t you cite your evidence of Ravnsborg’s sobriety. Sheriff Volek and Attorney General Ravnsborg should have known the law considering their positions as law enforcement pillars of the community. trumpoholism is a disease

  17. Steve 2021-02-18

    I would like to know Mr Ravnsborg’s speed at the time of the accident as indicated by the black box (event data recorder) in the car, or was this information tampered with (deleted) during the investigation???

  18. John 2021-02-18

    Ah, shucks, Ah, darn. Are you kidding me?! Do you think we’re Texans?!
    The Janklow case was the precedent. Anything less than a felony conviction, disbarment, etc., pseudo, de-facto encourages folks to take the law into their own hands when justice fails. This is bigger than Sovell, Ravnsborg, noem, et. al. It’s about justice. It’s about fair dealing.

    One hopes that Boever’s family will be able to take their civil case to federal court to extract a token of justice due to them and Boever.

  19. Mark Anderson 2021-02-18

    Well grudz, if I wrecked my car after spending a few hours in a bar in Redfield I’m sure that the sheriff would loan me his and test me the next morning too.

  20. grudznick 2021-02-18

    I’m sure he would do that for you, Mr. Anderson. Because the Sheriff is just that nice of a guy and you are even more charismatic than Mr. Ravnsborg, who should be locked up with dope fiends in the jail.

    But not for being drunk, because he was not.

  21. grudznick 2021-02-18

    Mr. Steve, the pretty young lady in the press conference said it was 67, if I recall. I believe they meant in miles per hour, not kilometers or knots.

  22. Steve 2021-02-18

    No doubt South Dakota tax payers will get stuck paying any settlements against AG Ravnsborg because he will claim the AG is on duty 24 hours a day!

  23. ds 2021-02-18

    He is charged with cell phone usage while driving…but East of Highmore…not West of Highmore where the fatality occurred. If Ravnsborg used a cellphone before the accident but not whilst cruzing thru Highmore, most likely he was attempting to use it again after passing thru. Maybe just playing mobile phone games while driving? Or maybe he dropped the phone and was reaching under the seat when distracted….he ends up in the gutter lane and is so confused or attempting to deflect blame that he stated that he hit something “in the middle of the road”…even though the damage is on the RIGHT side of the car…how lame is that??
    If Kristi Noem follows thru on her promise to release the accident investigation results maybe some truth will come out….note the States Attorneys made no mention of Joe Boever having a flashlight while walking…NO WAIT…maybe Kristi will release the results to poison the jury pool just so there cannot be a guilty verdict?

  24. Mike Livingston 2021-02-18

    Truth is not one of kristy’s virtues, smoke, mirrors and stalling for five months is par for the course. For someone who claims to not have broken any laws you might think that he would have known that it is against the law to leave the scene of an “accident”. Furthermore why didn’t he request to be breathalyzed to bolster his claim of innocence, I have a healthy amount of skepticism when it comes to politicians and the truth and I am sick of watching liars squirm out of responsibility for their transgressions especially when they go around waving the flag and claiming to be the party of law and order. Scoff-law and disorder is more like it. Joe Boever and his loved ones deserve real justice.

  25. bearcreekbat 2021-02-19

    Bill Janklow was charged with two class 2 misdemeanors (speeding and running a stop sign) and reckless driving, which supported a homicide charge and prison term. Ravnsborg also was charged with two class 2 misdemeanors (unsafely driving outside a lane and being on his phone while driving before the crash) but then was only charged with careless driving and no homicide charge.

    South Dakota statutes define careless driving as driving in a manner nearly identical to reckless driving, and offers no meaningful distinction that I can find that might prevent Ravnsborg from being charged with reckless driving, which also supports a second degree manslaughter charge.

    Reckless driving is defined as by SDCL 32-24-1 as

    Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway . . . carelessly and heedlessly in disregard of the rights or safety of others, or without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property, is guilty of reckless driving.

    Meanwhile careless driving is defined by SDCL 32-24-8 as:

    Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway . . . carelessly and without due caution, at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger any person or property, not amounting to reckless driving as defined in § 32-24-1, is guilty of careless driving.

    I see no added element in the definition of reckless that is missing in Ravnsborg’s case, but exists in the definition of careless. In reckless driving the statute sets out two alternative ways of committing the crime:

    (1) driving “carelessly and heedlessly in disregard of the rights or safety of others” or
    (2) driving “without due caution and circumspection.”

    Careless driving give one means of committing the crime: drivng “carelessly and without due caution,” and then adds “not amounting to reckless driving as defined in § 32-24-1.”

    I can find no meaningful difference in these parts of the two statutes, and it is difficult to see how driving at highway speed along a shoulder while using a phone is somehow was not as “carelessly and heedlessly in disregard of the rights or safety of others” as Janklow’s speeding and running a stop sign, or not just as lacking in “due caution and circumspection.”

    Both reckless driving and careless driving cover driving “at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger” any person or property. There can be no doubt that Ravnsborg was reportedly driving in a manner that actually endangered a person, just as did Janklow’s driving.

    To me this charging decision is simply inexplicable, especially since the issue of whether Ravnsborg’s driving satisfied the elements of the statute normally would be a pure factual question for a jury to decide, not a prosecutor. Why Janklow’s two class 2 misdemeanors supported a reckless and Ravnsborg’s two class 2 misdemeanors do not support a similar charge simply make little sense, especially since in each factual situation someone was killed as a result of the comission of these class 2 misdemeanors.

    The prosecutor’s reported excuse for not bring the charge of reckless driving and manslaughter seems quite odd and inconsistent with what usually happens in similar cases such as in Janklow’s case. I see no logical or persuasive reason why a jury could not have heard all the evidence and defense arguments and then made a decision, just as they did in Janklow’s case.

  26. klr 2021-02-19

    Listen to the 911 call. Ravnsborg’s wording is suspect. It sounds as though he rehearsed what to say and what not to say. He accepts the 911 operator’s suggestion that he hit a deer, and acts as though he’s convinced it was a deer. Yet he returns to the scene the next morning to look for the deer. Why is that? Has anyone reading this who has ever hit a deer, gone back to the site the next day to look for the deer?

  27. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-02-19

    Bear, thank you for that analysis. Is there any recourse for citizens to sue the state for unequal application of laws or failure to charge certain individuals for the crimes they appear to have committed? I mean, we can refer bad laws to a vote and initiate new laws when the Legislature fails to create them… but is there any remotely similar I&R process applying to actions or inactions of law enforcement and the judiciary branch?

  28. Jenny 2021-02-19

    So they both walked by Joe Boever’s body and didn’t see anything? Didn’t they see the blood trail? Recklessborg used his phone flashlight and Volek had a flashlight and the grass in the ditch had just been cut and the body was laying right next to the highway but they didn’t see anything they are saying?
    Last November they made the big announcement that Recklessborg was distracted. Well, what was the distraction for hitting Boever who was on a wide shoulder with a flash light? More questions. They can take their pathetic SD laws and shove it.
    The moral of the story is, the SD GOP is not tough on crime when it is one of their own ugly white pudgy men.
    We all knew that. Stay safe out there.

  29. Law changing janitor 2021-02-19

    I fought extremely hard to make texting and driving against the law. This is the first time since the law was enacted that I have seen this crime charged despite seeing it almost every day.
    Has anyone in SD seen this charged before? anyone? lawmen? crickets!
    And before you can say this is a Reublican thing, lets talk about Teddy Kennedy

  30. Dana P 2021-02-19

    BCB description is perfect indeed. The prosecutors let themselves and Jason off of the hook by only charging him with careless driving rather than reckless driving. If they had charged him with reckless driving, then they would have had to go the ‘Janklow way’ and charged Jason with Manslaughter in the Second Degree.

    Why is blowing through a stop sign more reckless than driving at 67 mph, not paying attention to the road because you are utilizing your cell phone? Not doing your duty as a driver of a motorized vehicle? If he would have crossed the center line instead and hit someone head on, would THAT rise to the level of reckless driving?

    I’m also hoping for an answer to…..why did it take five months to come up with a charging decision in an open and shut case? For misdemeanor charges? Everything that the evidence proved (speed, shoulder of road, cell phone usage) was more than likely known within the first 30 days of the fatal accident. What evidence were they waiting for that came in last month that they finally said, “Nope, that cinches it. ONLY careless driving.” It just doesn’t make sense. And I wish those prosecutors would talk as if it is a known fact that Jason was not intoxicated at the time. He may not have been, but, a blood draw 15 hours after an accident shouldn’t be the factor you are saying tells you definitively that he wasn’t under the influence.

    What ISN’T covered by statute ………Jason is a public servant. (well, on paper anyway) He should be held to higher standard. And he is the top cop of the state. Double and triple higher standard should be applied. The top cop, who wanted meth jails, driving his vehicle in a careless/reckless manner and disregarding the laws in reference to cell phone usage. How he handled the issues post-accident was appalling. He knew he didn’t hit something ‘in the middle of the road’. And the sheriff’s response to this was also appalling. The damage to Jason’s vehicle. It was clear that whatever he hit, would be so gravely injured or killed, that the person or animal would not have gone very far. The top cop and the responding sheriff didn’t even do the bare minimum at an accident scene (if their stories are to be believed). The bare minimum. These two men are who are public servants, failed the public miserably that night. Most importantly, they failed Mr Boever and his family. Shameful. Disgusting.

  31. Dicta 2021-02-19

    I respect BCB and find his argument well thought out, as usual. But I disagree here.

    First: the facts, as reported by the SA, indicate that Ravnsborg was using his phone on the other side of Highmore from the accident. At the very least, this presents a huge causation issue if the claim is that the phone usage led to the death. Second, while BCB correctly notes that the statutes do a poor job of differentiating the reckless vs. careless driving, SDCL 22-1-2 defines reckless and negligent in terms of criminal acts.

    (d) The words, “reckless, recklessly,” and all derivatives thereof, import a conscious and unjustifiable disregard of a substantial risk that the offender’s conduct may cause a certain result or may be of a certain nature. A person is reckless with respect to circumstances if that person consciously and unjustifiably disregards a substantial risk that such circumstances may exist;

    (e) The words, “neglect, negligently,” and all words derived thereof, import a want of attention to the nature or probable consequences of an act or omission which a prudent person ordinarily bestows in acting in his or her own concerns;

    subsection (e) pretty clearly applies here, in my mind. There don’t appear to disagreements about the evidence that a trier of fact would decide, but rather a legal question of whether or not an agreed upon set of facts meet a legal definition. This falls within prosecutorial discretion, a broad power, and the outcome is not at all shocking to me.

    Despite this, I think two things clearly need to happen:

    1) The AG’s resignation; and
    2) A civil suit for his negligent actions that led to the death of another human being.

  32. mike from iowa 2021-02-19

    Deer eyes reflect light, even after death for a period of time. Most animals, including deer, die with their eyes open, provided they were conscious when they died. Therefore a sweep of the roadside at night should have detected a deer’s eyes facing the light or the deer carcass itself.

  33. MeMyself&I 2021-02-19

    I feel it’s important to point out that Ravnsborg is not ~innocent~ as he stated; there was just a paucity of evidence in the mind of the prosecuting attorney to levy felony charges.

    If Ravnsborg had been on his phone when he struck Boever, it would be clear-cut. However, the fact he had fiddled with his phone a minute prior diminishes my theory that he was nodding off… but there’s still so many unanswered questions about why he was driving on the shoulder.

    I think what bothers me the most is Jason seems to have mentally distanced himself from the event – offering condolences, but never acknowledging his part in the pain and suffering Boever’s family are experiencing. I speculate that’s because it’d be an admission of guilt, which would go over poorly at the civil stage… but dang that rubs the wrong way.

    Since there’s no way he’s stepping down from the AG, if he decides to run again, voters will have their chance to speak. Maybe someone wants to start making bumper stickers comparing him to Ted Kennedy?

  34. leslie 2021-02-19

    THE DISTRACTED DRIVER (my two cents)

    The Driver uses his phone while highway driving for ___ minutes. Driver simultaneously or subsequently slows to 45mph zone at Highmore. Later while increasing speed back up to 65 mph he travels/swerves over fog line onto road shoulder. Driver strikes Pedestrian on road shoulder’s edge of pavement with his front passenger fender, headlight, bumper, tire and windshield. Pedestrian is left in the mown grass just off of road shoulder. Driver calls 911 a minute after last phone call and says he does not know what he hit with his vehicle “in the middle of the road”.

    When the full investigation report becomes public, the following answers will be helpful to know.

    Where was driver’s phone after end of previous call? Was driver’s answer truthful?

    Did Driver see what he hit before or after he called 911? Was Driver’s assertion truthful?

    Was Driver distracted with his phone when he struck Pedestrian?

    Driver was wrong about the “middle of the road”.

    Driver later was wrong about having “broken no laws”. His “defensive” public statement is also inconsistent with the facts.

    Was Sheriff distracted from discovery of the Pedestrian in the grass? Was the tow truck operator distracted too?

    Did Sheriff and investigative interrogators favor Driver as the South Dakota Attorney General? Did the five month investigation serve a legitimate purpose, given the politics? Was the Prosecutor competent, biased or compromised? Were investigators competent, biased or compromised? Should South Dakotans have reason to distrust the state’s legal/political system?

    Was Driver’s return to Pierre after the collision an opportunity 1.) for him to avoid a “defensive” blood alcohol test until 15 hours later; and 2.) to more fully prepare a fuller defensive “story” of innocence, in anticipation of criminal and civil liability.

    Very sad, sad story. Very distracting.

  35. happy camper 2021-02-19

    Two things are staggering: 1) She didn’t know the reason why Ravansborg veered off his lane. That is inconceivable. If it wasn’t the phone, then what was he doing? It may have been something that justified further charges or minimally help explain very strange events. 2) She said they didn’t answer questions prior to the press conference because they were a part-time office and needed to concentrate on the case. Okay, but now that her work was done, it was time to give a 3 or 4 hour question period, answering everything she could because no information was shared previously. These two things give great pause.

    Some other things are also beyond explanation. I’ve read both the AG and the sheriff only used the flashlights on their phone, though it’s possible each assumed it was a deer, as is so common. Nick Nemec believes the body was under the car and why they didn’t see it, but how could the man who loaded the car not find the body? She said there was no evidence the body was moved, or one might wonder if Ravnsborg moved the body, drove back in the middle of the night, moved it again, so it would be spotted in the morning. When exactly did he and his staff member arrive? Why wouldn’t other drivers along this road, later that night, or in the morning, have seen the body? Did they have a friendship or close relationship in law school?

    The comparison to Janklow is different. He was speeding during the day, at a time it’s more likely to have pedestrians or side traffic. At night is an unlikely time for there to be people walking on the side of the road.

    This was their time to be as transparent as the impending charges would allow. In not doing so they have lost public confidence. So many questions still must be answered or they will not regain public trust.

  36. bearcreekbat 2021-02-19

    Cory, as Dicta points out the decision of what charges to file is normally within the relatively unfettered discretion of a prosecutor. Hence, I am unaware of any “recourse for citizens to sue the state for unequal application of laws or failure to charge certain individuals for the crimes they appear to have committed” under these facts.

    But citizens could propose an initiative removing this prosecutorial discretion either by statute or constitutional amendment, which would be an “I&R process applying to actions or inactions of law enforcement.” For example, SD citizens could adopt a law that puts the charging decision in the hands of a grand jury whenever a public official is involved in a homicide. Such an initiated measure could also tweak the grand jury process by taking steps to assure that a politically independent prosecutor or team of prosecutors was appointed to make the presentation to the grand jury and thereby lesson and suspicion of a biased prosecutor minimizing or manipulating evidence or a crime to either encourage (the “ham sandwich” dilema) or discourage an indictment.

    Dicta, I wonder how you would distinguish the facts of Ravnsborg’s case from Janklow’s case in your analysis in order to explain why a reckless driving charge and manslaughter would be clearly inappropriate in Ravnsborg’s case, but appropriate in Janklow’s case. The publicly reported facts assert that Janklow and Ravnsborg were each charged with two misdemeanors of equal statutory severity; and that in both cases engaging in these criminal acts was a cause of the death of someone who was lawfully traveling along the highway, one lawfully walking along a shoulder with a light and the other driving a motorcycle apparently obeying all traffic laws. What do you see as the key factual difference or differences? Why wouldn’t this normally be a jury question?

  37. Jenny 2021-02-19

    I don’t remember hearing that the body was under the car, HC.

  38. Dicta 2021-02-19

    I’d distinguish on a couple points:

    1. Janklow barreled through a stop sign, versus lane driving for Ravnsborg. These are qualitatively different to me, and failing to stop (or even slow down) meets the statutory definition of recklessness as provided by 22-1-2 because it was a “conscious and unjustifiable disregard of a substantial risk that the offender’s conduct may cause a certain result.” Lane driving is not that. A half second of distraction has caused me to cross the line and be jolted back to reality by rumble bars. Running a stop sign indicates a much more significant distraction from, if not completely ignoring, a person’s surroundings that rise to the level of recklessness.
    2. Janklow’s history indicates that this was his mo (although I’m not sure if this would constitute improper character evidence, as I’ve never practiced.) His killing someone was inevitable due to the pattern of recklessness and complete disregard of traffic laws of any sort. While Ravnsborg’s record is spotty, it’s not even in the same zip code as Janklow’s.

    I am not saying that I would have freaked out if the SA had elected to bring a manslaughter charge, although I do not think the elements are met here. But note that my disagreement rests largely with your statement that ” I see no logical or persuasive reason why a jury could not have heard all the evidence and defense arguments and then made a decision, just as they did in Janklow’s case.” I can, and do.

  39. bearcreekbat 2021-02-19

    Thanks Dicta. I fully agree that such a factual argument on Ravnsborg’s behalf surely should be and would be raised in front of a jury, and could be rationally be accepted or rejected by the jury. My problem is that I really don’t see how the mere existence of a rational factual defense argument is sufficient to refuse to bring the case forward and allow a jury to decide.

    happy camper distinguishes Janklow’s case based on the time of day of the killing, with night time potentially being less dangerous than daytime. That too seems like an appropriate argument that would and should be presented to a jury, but not an argument to keep it out of an impartial jury’s hands.

    What am I missing here? Do you think that your argument or happy’s argument is strong enough to require a directed verdict of acquittal or a dismissal of the case before trial? If not, then I am still searching for a rational or logical reason not to present the case to a jury, just as Janklow’s case went forward despite a Republican controlled judiciary and political structure. Given the contrast in the treatment of each similarly situated defendant I can’t even see a rational political reason for the different treatment, especially since Ravnsborg’s political power and standing is substantially less than Janklow’s was at the he was charged with reckless driving manslaughter. Help me out here.

  40. Jenny 2021-02-19

    Barreling down the shoulder of a highway at night is pretty reckless if you ask me. AG has a history of frequent speeding with tickets and taking pics while driving.

  41. Dicta 2021-02-19

    I think it is a question of law that the SA correctly concluded did meet the statutory requirements for a charge of manslaughter.

  42. bearcreekbat 2021-02-19

    Dicta, exactly, that would be a question of law. So can I take that you contend the undisputed facts are so compelling in Ravnsborg’s favor that no rational jury could find him guilty of reckless driving and manslaughter? If that view is correct, a view that I disagree with, then that provides a rational reason for the prosecutor’s decision. Thanks.

  43. Dicta 2021-02-19

    As always, thanks for being chill in the discussion.

  44. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-02-19

    If Borg was going 67, a 4th charge of speeding should be added.

    SD Rep Party has degenerated into a Party of narcissists and Trumpaholics.

    Borg should resign immediately. A #1 law enforcement officer who killed a guy, and who refuses to defend the law that the people passed? Poster boy for corruption and malfeasance.

    Driving while campaigning or driving while in office has cost 2 people’s lives so far!

    How does Boever’s death affect Borgs National Guard duties?

    A very sad day for our state.

    Call it 9/12.

    When Democrats take over the government (remember 2022 to 2072, 50 years in power, I would buy the t shirt!) laws protecting pedestrians can be passed.


  45. Taunia 2021-02-19

    Ravnsborg should run to the court house today, plead guilty and take his wrist slap. These are minimal charges; the prosecutor could file additional charges due to public outrage, Ravnsborg has another accident, additional evidence is discovered – perhaps for the impending civil suit, etc, and a jury may very well convict him of additional charges.

    He doesn’t have to resign for pleading to misdemeanors and he’s apparently got an unlimited PR budget courtesy of the state. Election season has started for 2022. He’s wasting time not pleading and getting out from under this.

    (That’s defense mind. My human mind is pretty sad for the victim’s family but not shocked; I’m actually surprised he was charged. See: Trump/Insurrection 2021.)

  46. Steveo7654 2021-02-19

    I predicted this outcome from the beginning. Most of us suspected that the charges would be trivial if charged at all. Move along, nothing to see here folks. Just business as usual in South Dakota.

  47. Donald Pay 2021-02-19

    I don’t understand the injustice system. Nick Tilsen is charged with a felony for swiping a police shield, and some misdemeanor assault charges due to an altercation at the Mt. Rushmore protests. He could receive 10 years in prison for swiping the shield. Apparently, the loss of a police shield is more valuable than the loss of a human life. What Tilsen did is minor compared to the loss of life Ravnsborg caused. I’m sure Ravnesborg didn’t intend to kill a person, while Tilsen may have intended to swipe the shield. Police got the shield back. Joe Boever will not get his life back. I don’t know how much time Ravnsborg will have to do in jail, but it seems to me it ought to be quite a bit more than Tilsen.

  48. Loren 2021-02-19

    Will our distinguished AG be able to perform his duties from jail or will he be forced to use vacation days during his gov’t provided accommodations? I’m not a lawyer, but I have been known to use common sense! GeezLouise!

  49. Mike Livingston 2021-02-19

    Taunia, your comments sound to me like your making a pitch to be his campaign manager.

  50. Caleb 2021-02-19

    I know relatively little about law and legal history, so this is me learning:

    Reading 22-16-41, I believe vehicular homicide only applies to those “under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or substances in a manner and to a degree prohibited by 32-23-1”. While I don’t understand why that’s a prerequisite to vehicular homicide or believe it should be, I agree publicly available evidence (no matter how disappointing) doesn’t support vehicular homicide.

    Reading 22-16-15, I believe publicly available evidence precludes manslaughter in the first degree under (1) because it doesn’t show he was engaged in a felony when he killed Boever, under (2) because it doesn’t show he was in a heat of passion, under (4) because it doesn’t show Boever committed a crime or failed an attempt at committing a crime. However, I think by now, considering someone has written a book on the matter (, we could say Ravnsborg’s negligence rises to the level of manslaughter in the first degree under (3) because people can and have used automobiles as dangerous weapons, and he negligently drove one.

    Regardless of whether my thinking is correct, imagine some nobody killing in the same way Ranvsborg did and receiving no charge related to that killing – as if that would happen!

  51. bearcreekbat 2021-02-19

    Caleb’s analysis concerning an automoble as a “dangerous weapon” appears to be correct. Citing State v. Stetter, 513 NW2d 87, 92 (SD 1994) and State v. Seidschlaw, 304 NW2d 102, 106 (SD 1981)). the South Dakota Supreme Court recently reaffirmed that:

    We have said that an automobile can be considered a dangerous weapon only in those instances where “the use of the automobile [is] of such a nature that death or serious bodily harm [is] a probable result.”

    Boehrns v. S.D. Board of Pardons and Parol, 2005 SD 49.

    This is usually applied by the prosecution to elevate drunk driving cases from 1st degree manslaughter to 2nd degree murder in egregious cases. But if I am not mistaken it could have been used in a case like the Janklow case, and could be used in Ravnsborg’s case since whether any instrument, including a car, has been used in a manner that qualified it as a “dangerous weapon” normally is considered a question of fact for a jury to decide as long as there is some evidence that could support such a finding.

  52. happy camper 2021-02-19

    Jenny, you may want to read the article Nick Nemic wrote on The South Dakota Standard. Here is the relevant paragraph: “In today’s press conference it was announced that Ravnsborg and Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek stood within feet of the body and didn’t see it. I suspect the reason they did not see it, despite being within feet of it, was because it was stuck under Ravnsborg’s car.” Due to the damage near the top of the car and windshield, that would seem unlikely.

    Thinking more about it today, I’ve heard people say it was dark out there versus surprisingly well lit. If it was dark, that gives plausibility that he wasn’t seen, at the time of the accident, or later by the sheriff and the man who loaded the car. If it was light, that raises different questions, like why would no one else see the body. But by the light of day many other people must have driven by before Ravnsborg returned unless it was still dark. An extremely accurate timeline is necessary. Things don’t make sense, and their presentation did not eliminate some very serious questions.

  53. John 2021-02-19

    I don’t know if Ravnsburg is smart enough or not but his saying I don’t know what I hit is key. legally…See this case I cite below & what was said above —he had to have a “conscious disregard of a known risk”… him saying I don’t know what I hit makes reckless and manslaughter hard to prove so says our supreme court long before this incident–especially as it is a nighttime accident and it is not expected that people will be walking on the shoulder at night in dark clothes.

    Janklow is different for many reasons—he went through a stop sign—it is reasonable to think that a person could be coming from other direction, when he disregarded stop sign. He made statements like he went through that stop sign all the time and his speed if I remember right was excessive not just 2 mph over like Ravnsburg.

  54. bearcreekbat 2021-02-19

    John identifies an important case, State v. Olsen, that appears quite different than Ravnsborg’s case. In the case linked by John a magistrate dismissed a 2nd degree manslaughter case against a defendant that was turning off the road with a tractor when the decedent’s care collided with the tractor. The defendant immediately said he did not see the car coming and according to the opinions in the case there was corroborating evidence supporting the defendant’s statement and no evidence offered by the State to the contrary.

    The first distinguishing feature seems to be Ravnsborg’s reported untruthful statement to the police dispatcher that he hit something “in the middle of the road.” According to news reports, the evidence indicated that the collision apparently happened on the shoulder of the road not in the middle of the road. This statement provides evidence that can be used to challenge any exculpatory statements by Ravnsborg and to undermine his credibility. That seems to be a key factual distiction from the Olsen case.

    Next, making an otherwise lawful turn with a slow moving tractor as in Olsen seems unlikely to create the required awareness of the danger to person or property from the turn, under the unique facts of that case. The opinions stated there was no evidence that Olsen saw a car coming over the hill on the highway, apparently traveling at highway speed and, according to an eyewitness, striking the turning tractor within seconds after coming over the hill, corroborating the claim by the defendant that he didn’t see the car when he started the turn or prior to the collision. Had there been evidence contradicting Olsen’s statement and undermining his credibility, the outcome seems much more likely to have been 100% different. Here the reports state that Ravnsborg was driving at highway speed along the shoulder of a road at night where visibility appears to have been quite limited. It would seem that driving on the shoulder of a road in such circumstances constitutes evidence that the driver knew he was likely to cause injury, just as much as running a stop sign out in the sparsely populated South Dakota farm countryside.

    John’s point and cited case are important and show why it could be considered inappropriate to bring homicide charges in cases similar to the Olsen case, but for the above reasons that case doesn’t seem to apply to the facts of Ravnsborg’s case.

    And it seems particularly troublesome that in the Olsen case a magistrate judge, rather than a prosecutor, made the decision to dismiss the case. The prosecutor brought the charges and an independent review by a magistrate lead to the decision based on the State’s inability to prove probable cause that the charges were supported by the evidence. In Ravnsborg’s case, neither an independent magistrate nor grand jury will ever have any opportunity to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a reckless driving and 2nd degree manslaughter charge.

    To use a baseball analogy, it is one thing to get called out at first base, and yet another thing to refuse to even step up to bat due to a fear of striking out.

  55. Caleb 2021-02-19

    Maybe commenters here have talked about this, but a friend tonight made a point I hadn’t considered or yet seen discussed: Ravnsborg thought he hit a deer, yet called 911 rather than GF&P.

    I highly suspect he knew he hit and killed a man.

  56. Mike Livingston 2021-02-19

    I don’t know how many thousands of deer I have come up on in my fifty years of driving but I always knew what I was seeing, high beams or low, fast or slow, impaired or not. It is part of living in South Dakota and I don’t think that there are many who live in this state that would disagree. The description of this incident has been crafted to fit neatly into the gray areas of the statutes that apply. This is pure speculation on my part but I believe I am entitled my opinion which is, this is the kind of an alibi that only a lawyer could concoct.

  57. grudznick 2021-02-19

    The flaw in that theory, Mr. Livingston, is that Mr. Ravnsborg does not have the sort of mind that could concoct such an alibi, especially on the fly and very quickly. It is known that Mr. Ravnsborg is barely a lawyer and one of the slowest witted ones at that. It is known.

  58. John 2021-02-19

    Cory, you asked: “Is there any recourse for citizens to sue the state for unequal application of laws or failure to charge certain individuals for the crimes they appear to have committed?” Yes, it’s called frontier justice. It’s what the patriots used against the Tory sheriffs, Tory governors, women used protesting suffrage, Blacks used protesting the lack of civil rights, unionist protesting the lack of work safety and unfair labor practices, etc. It isn’t pretty. It is what just people sometimes resort to to get justice. An alternative is civil disobedience. As Dr. King wrote from the Birmingham jail, and likely Gandhi would agree, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

    Dicta’s ascribing ‘lane driving’ to differentiate Ravnsborg’s actions from Janklow’s falls short when Ravnsborg was OUT SIDE THE LANE. Bicyclists are acutely aware of ‘lane driving’ or the lack of lane driving. Ravnsborg negligently mishandled a 3,000 pound deadly weapon, killed a man, and should be held accountable. Petty offenses and Class 2 misdemeanor charges fall short of Ravnsborg’s crimes.

  59. Mike Livingston 2021-02-19

    grudznick: I believe that the alibi was the fruit of a poison tree not a single branch, Ravnsborg is no doubt surrounded by confederates that have more legal skills than he. Due to the stall factor there has been ample time and opportunity to weave the wicked web. Oh well it is all conjecture anyway, my bottom line is I believe the fix is in and someone will end up with an AG in their pocket.

  60. Arlo Blundt 2021-02-19

    well…maybe I’m dense, but Why is the AG driving some distance before he hits Mr. Boever on the shoulder of a road with four lanes??I imagine all of us have, while driving at night, come upon a pedestrian walking on the shoulder… we take our foot off the gas, and we’re by him, and we think “My goodness,if I’d have been ten feet over I’d have hit him” happened to me last fall…The AG had been driving on the shoulder for some time (don’t know what distance, that has not been recorded but he was going 67mph) WHY was he on the shoulder?? Distracted? I think distracted requires more explanation. Does not appear we are going to get “an aggressive prosecution” as experienced by Mr. Tilsen and many other South Dakotans.

  61. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-02-20

    Caleb, last time I hit a deer (and I saw the antlers) and damaged a vehicle, I called the sheriff.

  62. Beth zimmer 2021-02-20

    Here is my theory on this Jason for sure knew he hit a human,he did see Joe’s body laying on the side of tge road and so did the sheriff. I think the AG came up with a story and told the sheriff to go along with it, otherwise if the sheriff didn’t go along with the story the AG would make his life very difficult

  63. happy camper 2021-02-20

    Sovell says she doesn’t know what distracted Ravnborg. He wasn’t on his phone, it was still locked, but he was using it prior to entering Highmore. If he were reaching for the phone, about ready to use it, to me, that’s using the phone. It so much gives the appearance she is covering for him when she has no answer for that obvious question. It’s not believable. Then for her to say so many things can’t be discussed because charges are pending. Misdemeanors. I’m left not trusting her.

    The times I have hit deer at night I had no cell phone. When I called after getting home, the car still drivable, but serious damage, the sheriff’s office was not very concerned. The dispatcher just wanted to know where it happened. It’s such a common occurrence in our state it’s easy to assume that is the cause.

  64. Caleb 2021-02-20

    Cory, thanks for saying so. I suspected such behavior was common, but simply had never heard of anyone doing so. Still, you said sheriff, not 911. That he chose to call an emergency line is what was suspect to me, considering the call apparently ended the emergency. Can you recall why you chose to call the sheriff?

    Scratch my last statement about suspicion: I believe he knew he hit and killed a man, and will believe that until evidence proves otherwise, if it possibly can. What a sham of justice we have here.

  65. John 2021-02-20

    I believe the Sheriff was just incompetent or lazy or both. That is who I want to investigate at this point.

    Remember the AG called 911–they decided who would come out, they could have dispatched Highway Patrol and looking back they clearly should have done so, but the 911 operator decided who to send the call to. I assume there is some protocol of who to call and what is supposed to be done.

  66. BobJ 2021-02-21

    The whole thing smells of rotten fish,very rotten, on several levels.If it was not so laughable. 5 months to come to a conclusion of this? The man knew he killed another man before he ever made that phone call. Cover-up has taken this long hoping citizens and family would lose interest. Kristi and company,,,,,well they stink too.

  67. Borninsd 2021-02-23

    If Ravnsborg really didn’t know what he had hit, why didn’t he do what any responsible person would have done, which is to consider the possibility that he might have hit a human person. It’s unbelievable to me that he could have been so irresponsible as to disregard that possibility. He should have insisted in his 911 call that he might have hit a person and an ambulance was needed. I see his action as a hit and run for this incredible act of irresponsibility.

  68. robin friday 2021-02-23

    February 22–Noem asks Ravnsborg to resign. About time.

  69. robin friday 2021-02-23

    Sorry, that should be Feb. 23, Noem asks for Ravnsborg resignation. Should have happened months ago.

  70. Mike Livingston 2021-02-23

    The party of scoff law and disorder continues to bring shame to our beloved state.

  71. Dicta 2021-02-23

    I’m not gonna trash Noem when she makes the right call, and I think she is here. While I’ve made clear that I don’t think the AG’s actions meet the elements of manslaughter, I ABSOLUTELY believe he should resign. If the Governor’s calls for him to do so increase the pressure for the man to do the right thing, then I am all for it.

  72. robin friday 2021-02-23

    She just took WAY TOO LONG to make the decision, if indeed she has made the decision, and not just a suggestion. JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED. It’s certainly been denied for the Boever family and she bears no small measure of that denial.

  73. Dicta 2021-02-23

    I agree this took far too long as well.

  74. Wayne 2021-02-24

    I’ve watched the interviews… man that’s tough.

    I’m very curious about the 73 seconds of redacted footage during the second interview. Something very interesting must have happened there.

    I think whatever really happened, it’s incumbent upon all of us to ensure we’re not distracted while behind the wheel. We may want to throw big stones at Ravnsborg, but I know I have looked at my phone while driving in the past. Mind you, I’m not perusing DFP, the War College, and Real Clear Politics, but it just takes that moment of laxity for life to change. I’m not excusing what he did, but know that I, too, am not without sin.

    For a couple years now, I’ve taken to keeping my phone in my front pocket. That way I have to really work to get at it. It’s a LOT easier to just let it be.

    My heart still aches for the families who’ve lost loved ones due to wholly preventable distracted driving incidents. It’s incumbent on all of us to ensure our roads are as safe as can be.

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