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Ravnsborg prosecutors say release of interrogation videos “ethical violation”

Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore said that the release of the Ravnsborg interrogation videos could have compromised the investigation, but Moore and Hyde County Deputy State’s Attorney Emily Sovell both said that they did not feel any outside person or party attempted to compromise the investigation.
The State's Attorneys who prosecuted the criminal case against SD Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg were one of four who testified on Ravnsborg's impeachment.
Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 10:14 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - The State’s Attorneys that prosecuted the case against South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg say that the release of interrogation videos rose to the level of an “ethical violation.”

Not only that, said Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore, but that the release of the video could have compromised a potential jury, or the entire investigation.

“It is an ethical violation for me as a prosecutor, even though it was done by another party it is still my case,” Moore testified before the House’s special committee on investigation. “I could be disciplined for that happening, the evidence could have been suppressed, there are all sorts of things that could happen when evidence like that is released to the public prior to the case being resolved... It could taint a jury or negatively impact the ability to prosecute the case.”

Moore and Emily Sovell, the Hyde County Deputy State’s Attorney who led the prosecutorial efforts, said that the pressure to release the interrogation tapes came from Department of Public Safety Craig Price. Both prosecutors testified that despite the push for transparency, they never felt that the Price or Governor Kristi Noem’s office were attempting to influence an outcome in the case.

Price took to Twitter after the hearing to say that he was “proud of the officers” behind the investigation.

However, Sovell seemed to indicate that outside pressure on her charges may have came from somewhere else.

“I will assure this committee that I excluded any person or party that was unduly trying to influence my decision with respect to this case,” Sovell said.

“Did you have to do that?” State Rep. Mike Stevens (R-Yankton) asked.

“I did.”

The two prosecutors were not the only ones to testify before the committee Thursday. Committee members also heard from DCI Director David Natvig, and Ravnsborg’s Chief of Staff Tim Bormann, who was with Ravnsborg when he discovered Joe Boever’s body the morning after the crash.

Bormann said that Ravnsborg did not act any different when he met him the morning after the accident to ride back out to the crash site together.

“(Ravnsborg) called my name, and I looked at him,” Bormann said about discovering Joe Boever’s body. “He said “there is a man,” I walked over to the general direction he was pointing, and saw Mr. Boever.”

After the committee meeting adjourned, committee chair and Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) told reporters that there was still no timeline on when a recommendation might be sent to the House floor, or on when the investigative report may be released to the public.

“We’ve been clear since the beginning that we were going to take the necessary time to do a fair job, and I feel confident that is what we are doing.”

The next meeting of the committee will take place on March 10th, the last day of the session before “Veto Day.” Ravnsborg and his spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the committee hearing.

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