Killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has failed to meet the June 1 deadline the Senate gave him to submit the list of witnesses and documents he intends to use in his defense in his impeachment trial before the Senate starting June 21. Ravnsborg’s attorney, Michael Butler, did submit Ravnsborg’s required response to the two articles of impeachment. As Butler told the press Tuesday evening, Ravnsborg denies that he committed crimes causing the death of Jospeh Boever and committed malfeasance in office afterward. The response to the Senate contains no argumentation, only two sentences:
Please accept this email as the Attorney General’s denial of the allegations contained in Articles 1 & 2 of House Resolution 7002. I request that this denial be circulated to the relevant parties [Michael Butler, email to LRC director Reed Holwegner, 2022.05.31 17:02 CDT; retrieved from Senate Court of Impeachment documents 2022.06.03].
The Senate’s impeachment prosecutors, Mark Vargo and Alexis Tracy, have submitted the prosecution’s witnesses and documents.
The prosecution will call eight witnesses:
- John Daily, Jackson Hole Scientific Investigations
- John Berndt, SD Highway Patrol
- Kevin Kinney, SD Highway Patrol
- Cassidy Halseth, ND Bureau of Criminal Investigation
- Brent Gromer, witness (retired, SD Division of Criminal Investigation)
- Tyler Neuharth, witness (retired, SD Division of Criminal Investigation)
- Joe Arenz, ND Bureau of Criminal Investigation
- Arnie Rummel, ND Bureau of Criminal Investigation
The first four witnesses investigated the crash site on the north shoulder of Highway 14 west of Highmore where Ravnsborg on the night of September 12, 2020, plowed his car at 68 miles per hour into flashlight-carrying pedestrian Joseph Boever and killed the man. The fifth and sixth witnesses appear called to testify to Ravnsborg’s abuse of power, his use of his position and access to DCI resources to help his own case. The last two witnesses are the North Dakota agents who interviewed Ravnsborg and other people connected to Ravnsborg, Boever, and Ravnsborg’s fatal crash and who told the House impeachment committee in January that Ravnsborg did not tell them the truth during their interviews.
One of the key facts about which Agents Arenz and Rummel believe Ravnsborg lied was the lit flashlight Boever was carrying in the dark when Ravnsborg killed him. Police found that flashlight still shining at the edge of Highway 14 the next day. The documents posted to the Senate Court of Impeachment webpage—167 as of this writing, Friday morning, June 3—include crime scene photos of that flashlight, documents 437_0493, 437_0637 through 437_0640 and 437_0644:
Document 445_0003 shows a front view of the right side of Ravnsborg’s red Ford Taurus, the side that hit Boever:
Notice the broken mirror on the right side of the vehicle and the scuffs in the dirt just behind the right front wheel and on the front passenger door. Investigators say that after Boever’s head broke through the windshield, his body eventually fell off the right side of the vehicle.
While recognizing the danger of seeing patterns where there may be none, see also Document 445_0032, where what appears to be a partial, dusty, streaked handprint near the right edge of the hood, just below the smashed windshield. The streaks point rearward, the direction the body would have been dragged by the road off the hood:
The index of photos says that Senators will see photos of Boever’s body, including his severed leg, during the trial. Those photos will not be published online. Accompanying those photos will be numerous records from the police investigation, including redacted recordings and transcripts of Ravnsborg’s interviews with the North Dakota investigators.
The prosecution also plans to present numerous examples of punishment prescribed and issued for misconduct by public officials and lawyers. The prosecution’s submitted documents include references to federal law punishing false statements, misuse of government property, and misuse of office for private gain. The prosecution cites South Dakota’s law against false reporting to authorities. The prosecution notes another state law prescribing removal from office for municipal officials found guilty of neglect of duty or misconduct. The prosecution cites a 1938 South Dakota Supreme Court ruling affirming the Governor’s decision to remove a member of the Board of Charities and Corrections for misconduct that the Court deemed “slight”. The prosecution cites the South Dakota Supreme Court’s 2013 discipline of Sioux Falls attorney R. Shawn Tornow for, among other actions, “disrespectful and insulting invectives in brief to circuit court,” a charge which seems to open the door for the prosecution to tag Ravnsborg for his surprising last-minute appeal to the House not to impeach him. Ravnsborg’s April 11 letter and bullet points to the House, which are also included in the prosecution’s exhibits, contended that he was a victim of political retaliation by the Governor, which sounds like the “invective” for which Tornow was disciplined, Tornow’s allegation in court that his daughter’s traffic conviction was a “retaliatory” measure against him. The prosecution cites multiple state rules for attorney conduct relating to conflicts of interest, candor toward the tribunal, special responsibilities of prosecutors, and misconduct.
The Senate impeachment trial rules allow both the prosecution and Ravnsborg to submit more documents during trial. Those submitted by the June 1 deadline by the prosecution indicate the direction the prosecution will take. We’ll have to wait now to see what documents and witnesses Ravnsborg plans to offer to save himself from doubling the asterisk next to his name in the history books as the first elected official impeached and removed from office in South Dakota.