The prosecution is calling its witnesses right now in the Senate impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
The first witness, South Dakota Highway Patrol Sergeant Kevin Kinney, made a key point about the evidence he analyzed while reconstructing the vehicular crash in which Ravnsborg killed pedestrian Joseph Boever. He said only one piece of evidence was found in the westbound lane, one car part found just a couple inches inside the north fog line. Everything else from the accident was found on the paved shoulder or in the grass. Sergeant Kinney said the evidence made him “100% confident” that Ravnsborg car struck Joe Boever near the grassy edge of Highway 14, where all four wheels of Ravnsborg’s car would have to have been out of the westbound driving lane, fully north of the fog line.
Defense attorney Mike Butler attempted to cast doubt on the impact location by asking if the officer knew whether any of the debris had moved on Saturday night or Sunday morning before law enforcement began their investigation. Sergeant Kinney refuted that doubt with strong forensic science. The investigators created trendlines for three sets of crime scene evidence: the red paint chips from Ravnsborg’s car, the glass and other debris from the car, and the blood from Boever. The paint chips are the lightest debris, most susceptible to movement due to the wind or the whooshing of passing cars. The car debris was heavier and less likely to blow around. The blood would not move at all: it spattered at impact, but the droplets would have dried quickly and stayed put.
If the wind had moved the paint chips, the trendline based on where they were found would have deviated noticeably from the trendline for the car debris and even more from the immobile blood spatters.
Sergeant Kinney said the trendlines for the paint chips, the car debris, and the blood all matched.
If the wind had blown hard all Saturday night and Sunday morning (and as we noted a year ago, it didn’t), maybe that trendline for the paint chips would have deviated from the trendlines for the other evidence. But the trendlines match.
The evidence thus makes clear that Jason Ravnsborg was driving entirely on the shoulder of Highway 14, at 68 miles per hour, when he struck and killed Joseph Boever.
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