A defense attorney of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, charged in a deadly hit-and-run accident last fall, is focusing on the victim’s mental health, suggesting that Joseph Boever may have committed suicide.
Ravnsborg, 45, is charged with three misdemeanor traffic charges in the incident, none of which allege criminal culpability, according to the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader. Investigators said they couldn’t find enough evidence to charge him with reckless driving.
Nevertheless, defense attorney Tim Rensch filed a six-page motion on Friday requesting Boever’s psychiatric and psychological records and “information concerning his suicidal ideation.”
Rensch’s motion alleges alcoholism and prescription drug abuse and quotes a cousin who was willing to say that Boever once told him “his preferred method of suicide would be to throw himself in front of a car.”
Boever was walking along South Dakota Highway 14 on the night of September 12, 2020, as he walked back to where he’d left his truck after a minor accident earlier in the day. Ravnsborg was driving home from a fundraising dinner. After he hit Boever, he called 911, saying he thought he might have hit a deer, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
Hyde County Sheriff Mike Vole came to the scene and reportedly searched the area with Ravnsborg for what the attorney general had hit, but found nothing. The sheriff then lent Ravnsborg his personal vehicle to drive home so the attorney general would not have to wait for a tow truck. The next morning, Ravnsborg came upon the scene on the way to return the sheriff’s vehicle and found Boever’s body. It remains unknown if Boever was killed instantly or if he might have survived if he had received medical help.
Video of a police interview with Ravnsborg, conducted more than two weeks after the incident, revealed that Boever’s eyeglasses were found inside the Republican attorney general’s vehicle and prompting the detective to tell him, “His face was in your windshield, Jason. Think about that.”
Prosecutors say cell phone data records show Ravnsborg had been using his phone about a minute before the crash, and a forensic report determined his vehicle was in the shoulder when he hit Boever. And prosecutors aren’t quite sure how Ravnsborg didn’t find Boever after the crash — the victim was carrying a flashlight that was still on when deputies found the body the next day.
Ravnsborg has pleaded not guilty to the three misdemeanor charges against him: operating a vehicle while using an electronic device, driving outside his lane, and careless driving. His trial is expected to begin next month.
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