Jason Ravnsborg is cooking up a new story about what happened when he killed Joe Boever while driving distracted down Highway 14 last September 12. Evidently hoping to turn Boever’s relatives against each other and create enough reasonable doubt to get a not-guilty verdict, Ravnsborg is telling the court that Boever suffered mental illness, abused drugs, and killed himself jumping in front of Ravnsborg’s car:
COMES NOW the Defendant, Jason Ravnsborg, by and through his attorney of record, Timothy J. Rensch, and hereby moves this Court for an order requiring health care providers of Mr. Joseph Boever to release psychiatric and/or psychological records for an in camera review by Court and/or counsel, for exculpatory information concerning his suicidal ideation, in keeping with the requirements of Due Process, Fair Trial Rights, and the ability to present a meaningful and complete defense. This motion is made upon the following grounds and reasons:
1. A cousin of Mr. Boever, Mr. Barnabas Nemec, told law enforcement, “I believe with a very high degree of confidence Joe committed suicide by throwing himself into the path of a speeding car.” He further stated the Mr. Boever, “was an admitted alcoholic with a brooding depressive streak unparalleled by anyone else I have ever known.” Mr. Barnabas Nemec further explained that in December, 2019, Mr. Joseph Boever “…told me his preferred method of suicide would be to throw himself in front of a car.”
2. Prior to his death Mr. Boever had been seeing mental health providers and some of those providers have asserted claims in his estate, to wit: Avera St. Luke’s Hospital, $3,522.48; Avera St. Mary’s Hospital, $197.02; AMG Pierre, $23.77; Aberdeen Psychiatric, $337.49.
3. A prescription bottle of Lorazepam was found in Mr. Boever’s truck which had been involved in a collision in the hours before his death. The prescription bottle had been filled with 90 pills on 9/11/20 and only 12 remained in the bottle on 9/12/20, a day later. The prescription called for “one tablet by mouth three times daily as needed.” Law enforcement stated there should have been “many more” pills in the bottle. Lorazepam can cause suicidal ideation. See, e.g., www.drugs.com/lorazepam. In fact Mr. Boever’s autopsy noted much more Lorazepam (190 ng/ml) in his system than a therapeutic dose. To use 78 pills of Lorazepam in less than 36 hours is clear abuse, and is consistent with suicidal ideation.
4. In the weeks prior to his death Mr. Boever had apparently been committed, possibly at Yankton, was in the midst of a divorce, was severely depressed, and was spiraling out of control.
5. Other witnesses on the evening in question describe Mr. Boever acting erratically and intoxicated.
6. There is a dispute as to the point of impact and whether or not it was on the roadway or on the shoulder. The evidence on the roadway and shoulder as examined by law enforcement the day after the death of Mr. Boever was different than it was the night before as there was wind, continued vehicle travel, and movement of the Ravnsborg vehicle by law enforcement in the interim. Nonetheless a bolt remained on the roadway, while paint chips were blown to the grass on the edge of the shoulder. This is consistent with impact between the Ravnsborg vehicle and Mr. Boever on the roadway rather than the shoulder [Timothy Rensch, defense attorney, Motion for Psychiatric and/or Psychological Records, State v. Ranvsborg, 2021.07.09; cited in Jazzmine Jackson and Angela Kennecke, “Ravnsborg Claims Boever May Have Thrown Himself in Front of His Car,” KELO-TV, 2021.07.09].
Before we get to Ravnsborg’s effort to assassinate Boever’s character along with snuffing out his actual life, let’s consider Ravnsborg’s effort to challenge the facts described by the police report and by Nick Nemec’s personal observation of the crime scene, which shows Ravnsborg’s car was entirely on the right shoulder when Ravnsborg struck and killed Boever, who was walking on the edge of the road. Almost all of the evidence was found at the side of the road or in the ditch, but Ravnsborg chooses to hang his hat on one bolt found on the roadway. The rest of the evidence got to the side of the road not by the location of the actual impact but by “wind, continued vehicle traffic, and movement of the Ravnsborg vehicle by law enforcement” before police showed up to investigate the scene the day after Ravnsborg’s crash.
I’ll accept that the semis blasting by on US 14 could blow some road debris toward the shoulder. But the wind reported at Pierre and Huron (Weather Underground doesn’t appear to provide historical data for the nearest stations, at Highmore and Holabird) was minimal at the time of the crash, 10:24 p.m. Saturday, September 12. When the breeze stiffened after lunch, it had switched to the north, meaning that by the time investigators were on the scene Sunday afternoon and evening, the wind was more likely to be moving light debris from the north shoulder out into the roadway.
The wind data do not support Ravnsborg’s suggestion that nearly all of the debris from his deadly crash would have blown from an alleged impact point in the middle of the road to the north shoulder.
Nor does any movement of the car by law enforcement (i.e., by Ravnsborg’s generous yet equally inattentive pal, Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek) prior to the arrival of investigators lend weight to Ravnsborg’s dispute of the evidence that he hit Boever on the highway shoulder. Ravnsborg told 911 dispatch immediately after the crash that he had parked his car “out of the roadway.” When the tow truck came to remove Ravnsborg’s car, it would have dragged the car and any straggling bits and pieces from the shoulder out into the roadway.
If it has any weight, Ravnsborg’s claim that the debris moved and tricked police into concluding the impact happened on the shoulder could get him out of one of his misdemeanor charges, driving out of his lane. But the entire motion and its unseemly allegations refute none of the evidence of the other two misdemeanor charges, careless driving and operating a motor vehicle while on his phone. Even if we assume the absolute worst about Boever, the evidence North Dakota’s investigators found make clear that Ravnsborg was driving carelessly, checking his email and reading this blog and other websites on his phone as he cruised out of Highmore toward his fateful meeting with Joe Boever. Joe Boever’s state of mind or actions at the side of the road have nothing to do with Ravnsborg’s state of mind—inattentive, distracted—and Ravnsborg’s actions—placing at least one hand on his phone and not the wheel, focusing his eyes on his tiny phone screen and not the road—that are the basis of these misdemeanor charges.
Even if this legal ploy to blame Boever for his own death could excuse Ravnsborg’s unrefuted distracted driving, Ravnsborg’s thesis conflicts with one crucial bit of evidence: Joe Boever’s flashlight. Boever was carrying a lit flashlight when Ravnsborg struck and killed him. The flashlight was still lit when Ravnsborg walked past his body while calling 911 and purportedly searching the area. The flashlight was still on when investigators found it on Sunday, September 13. If Boever really wanted to kill himself, why would he be carrying a lit flashlight that could alert an attentive driver to swerve away and brake?
What, Jason, did the wind turn on the flashlight after the crash?
Revealing information from Boever’s autopsy, trying to access Boever’s medical records, and accusing him of drug abuse and suicide are not about disproving the pending charges against him. These actions are about Ravnsborg trying to stave off the civil wrongful death lawsuit that’s coming, or at least about driving Boever’s family to settle quietly.
They are also about Ravnsborg trying to salvage Ravnsborg’s political career: he still wants to walk into the 2022 Republican convention and win their renomination for Attorney General… and to do that, he has to be able to look the SDGOP delegates and Marty Jackley in the eye and say, “I did not kill Joe Boever. Joe Boever killed himself.” If that line can save him at convention, it can save him at the general election, where 50% + 1 of the voters can soothe their own consciences for slavishly marking “R” even for a killer: Jason didn’t do it! That weak-minded drug-addled cousin of a Democrat did it to himself! It was probably a conspiracy: his Democrat cousins probably pushed him in front of Jason’s car!
If the state’s prosecutors are paying attention, they’ll object to this irrelevant political motion, and Judge John Brown will properly reject the motion. The confidential medical records requested have nothing to do with the facts pertaining to the charges. Joe Boever’s medical condition or state of mind do not establish where he was standing or walking when Jason Ravnsborg hit him with his car; the blood stains on the road do. Joe Boever’s desire to live or die does not change where Jason Ravnsborg’s mind was when he killed Joe Boever; Ravnsborg’s phone records do. If there is any fight to be had over Joe Boever’s medical records, that fight belongs in a different courtroom, over different charges.