Ravnsborg trial could begin as early as August

Judge John Brown suggested the trial could take place as soon as August, almost a full year since Joe Boever was struck and killed by Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
South Dakota's attorney general Jason Ravnsborg was involved in a fatal crash Saturday night.
South Dakota's attorney general Jason Ravnsborg was involved in a fatal crash Saturday night.(South Dakota Attorney General Office)
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 10:38 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s trial over charges he’s facing in a fatal 2020 crash may begin as early as August.

At a trial status hearing Wednesday that took place largely over the phone, Judge John Brown says they are aiming for the trial to begin in August or early September. Ravnbsorg’s attorney, Tim Rensch of Rapid City, requested 60 more days citing the need to review key pieces of evidence, including several interviews. Hyde County Deputy State’s Attorney Emily Sovell said she understood the defense’s request, but wanted the trial to move ahead as quickly as possible.

Rensch specifically pointed to the issue of attempting to find an “expert” to recreate the crash scene near Highmore. Rensch said that many possible experts would not be able to conduct the reconstruction, due to having been previously employed by, or affiliated with, the state.

Nick Nemec, cousin of the victim, questioned the defenses request for more time after the brief status hearing wrapped up.

“It seems to me that if the defense attorney was having issues finding files on a hard drive that he should’ve been talking to the state’s attorney and have her assist him,” Nemec said. “It seems like they’re just dragging it out unnecessarily.”

Nemec also said that a civil trial would be unable to proceed until the criminal one wrapped up. Sioux Falls lawyer Scott Heidepriem is representing Boever’s widow in the civil trial.

The charges Ravnsborg faces stem from the September 2020 crash where he struck and killed Boever just outside of Highmore. The three charges Ravnsborg faces are careless driving, operating a motor vehicle while on a mobile device, and driving outside his lane. Each charge is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Ravnsborg pled not guilty to all three charges in March.

Ravnsborg claims he did not see Boever when he hit him, and maintains he thought he hit a deer. However, in videos released in March, officers interrogating Ravnsborg say that Boever’s reading glasses were found in the car.

Governor Kristi Noem and several major law enforcement organizations have called for Ravnsborg to resign, though he has signaled he intends to remain in office, and run for re-election in 2022.

Ravnsborg did not respond to a request for comment following Wednesdays hearing. Another status hearing is scheduled for some time in early July.