South Dakota AG Takes Plea Deal a Day Before Trial

Jason Ravnsborg faced 3 charges in connection with fatal crash
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 25, 2021 1:55 PM CDT
South Dakota AG Will Take Plea Deal in Fatal Crash
Ravnsborg was elected to his first term in 2018.   (AP Photo/Dirk Lammers, File)

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg will avoid a trial and take a plea deal for misdemeanor traffic charges in a crash last year in which he hit and killed a man who was walking along a rural highway, a prosecutor said Wednesday. Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore, who is one of two prosecutors on the case, told the AP the plea will be entered Thursday, when Ravnsborg’s trial was scheduled to begin. Moore said a judge’s order that bars state officials from disclosing details of the investigation prevented him from saying more.

Ravnsborg, the state's top law enforcement officer, faced three misdemeanor charges that each carry sentences of up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. The widow of Joseph Boever, the man who was killed at age 55, has indicated that she plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the attorney general. Ravnsborg initially told authorities that he thought he had struck a deer or another large animal while he was driving home from a GOP fundraiser late on Sept. 12.

He said he had searched the unlit area with a cellphone flashlight and didn’t realize he had killed a man until the next day when he returned to the scene on US 14 near Highmore. Crash investigators said in November that Ravnsborg was distracted when he veered onto the shoulder of the highway where Boever was walking. In videos released by Gov. Kristi Noem this year, criminal investigators confronted Ravnsborg with gruesome details of the crash, including that Boever's eyeglasses were found inside Ravnsborg's vehicle.

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Noem and three law enforcement groups called on Ravnsborg to resign in February after the investigation concluded, but Ravnsborg resisted those calls, saying he was still capable of fulfilling the duties of his office. Ravnsborg hasn't said whether he will seek a second term next year. (Last month, Ravnsborg's defense team argued that Boever wanted to die.)

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