South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg will see three misdemeanor charges, not felony ones, after he hit and killed pedestrian Joseph Boever, 55, in September. Ravnsborg said he initially thought he'd hit a deer on a dark rural road, but he didn't find one in a search; when he went back to the accident scene the next day, he discovered Boever's body. Per NBC News, Hyde County Deputy State's Attorney Emily Sovell said Thursday Ravnsborg will be charged with operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile device, driving outside a lane, and careless driving. Sovell said there was no evidence he was impaired—a requirement for vehicular homicide charges—while manslaughter charges would necessitate "more than just a mere ordinary negligent standard." Although the crash report said Ravnsborg was "distracted" before the accident and that he'd been using his phone, prosecutors note his electronic devices were locked for at least a minute before impact.
In a statement, Ravnsborg acknowledged the "pain and loss" of Boever's family and added, "I appreciate, more than ever, that the presumption of innocence placed within our legal system continues to work," per the AP. Boever's family is unhappy but not surprised by the decision, KELO reports. "If nobody sees you and you see a pedestrian and you're not drunk, you can run over him and get away with a misdemeanor charge," Nick Nemec, Boever's cousin, says. Based on skid mark evidence, Nemec believes Ravnsborg saw Boever right before he hit him. Gov. Kristi Noem also commented on the new development, noting, "My heart goes out to Joseph Boever's family. I am not going to comment on the specifics of Ms. Sovell's decision." She also says she has told the state's Department of Public Safety to make more details of the probe publicly known within a week's time. Ravnsborg could see up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for each of the three charges. Boever's family could also still sue. (Read more Jason Ravnsborg stories.)