SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Ahead of the Senate impeachment trial, the defense for Jason Ravnsborg has submitted no witness list and four documents totaling 171 pages. 

According to the South Dakota Legislative Research Council website, a total of 178 documents are listed as evidence for the trial. Inside the 178 documents are thousands of pages of interviews, reports, photos, videos and other related evidence (cell phone data, car data, car debris, car photos, scene evidence and witness reports). 

From the 178 documents, two documents are tagged directly from the prosecution and four are tagged from the respondents. 

What the defense submitted as evidence

Ravnsborg chose Sioux Falls lawyer Michael Butler to represent him during the trial. Butler, who defended former state Senator Dan Sutton when he was censured by the Senate for sleeping in the same bed as a male legislative page. did not file a witness list for the defense.

As evidence, Butler submitted the full summaries from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation interviews with Ravnsborg, a consent to search document for Ravnsborg’s iPhone which was signed by Ravnsborg, all the minutes from the House Select Committee on Investigation meetings and the committee’s final report. Lastly, a South Dakota Public Broadcasting article highlighting 31 other similar cases regarding legally sober crashes that killed pedestrians is cited. 

That story notes “All of South Dakota’s neighboring states have harsher charging options for sober drivers who cause fatal accidents. But that doesn’t always result in lower pedestrian fatalities.” 

Two South Dakota Supreme Court rulings are also included in the four documents from the defense. 

One is State Ex Rel. Steffen v. Peterson which involved the issue of malfeasance or nonfeasance. It was ruled on in 2000 that Jerry Peterson, the elected Gregory County Register of Deeds, did not commit malfeasance.   

The other South Dakota Supreme Court ruling involved a case from 1938 called Craig v. Jensen which looks at the term “misconduct in office.” That same Supreme Court case is listed regarding evidence listed as “professional standards.” 

What the prosecution submitted as evidence

All the evidence used in the state’s criminal case against Ravnsborg has been submitted for the prosecution led by Pennington County state’s attorney Mark Vargo and Clay County state’s attorney Alexis Tracy. 

In his criminal case, Ravnsborg had his defense attorney plead no-contest to an illegal lane change for driving on the shoulder and to illegal use of an electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.

Prosecutors plan to call eight witnesses to help make their case for impeachment. Many of the witnesses previously gave testimony to the House Select Committee on Investigation regarding the Ravnsborg criminal and crash investigation. 

The witness list and a photo index that highlights “sensitive photos” from the crash scene were the two documents submitted from prosecutors.  

The crash scene 

In the criminal case, Ravnsborg pled no-contest to an illegal lane change. The final crash reconstruction diagram will be used as evidence. It shows the crash happened on the north shoulder of U.S. Highway 14. 

Final crash diagram showing where the crash happened and what happened after the point of impact.

Item 166 shows the re-creation of the overall accident scene, with the vehicle shown at the point of impact, the lines showing how far the car traveled with Boever’s body on it and the severed lower leg that flew beyond the body.

Time for impeachment trial 

The official calendar for the Senate on Tuesday lists the timeline for the Senate trial, which will start at 8 a.m.

Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden will be the presiding officer for the trial and will issue any subpoenas in the name of the Senate.

The 35 Senators will be tasked with listening and hearing arguments for much of the process. 

The timeline is listed as: 

  • Convening of Senate Court of Impeachment
  • Oaths
  • Opening Comments from President of the Senate
  • Prosecution – Opening Statement Presenting Case for Impeachment (1 hour) Respondent – Presenting Case Opposing Impeachment (1 hour)
  • Prosecution – Witness Testimony, Exhibits, and Cross-Examination (4 hours) Respondent – Witness Testimony, Exhibits, and Cross-Examination (4 hours)
  • Questions from Senators
  • Prosecution – Closing Remarks (1 hour)
  • Respondent – Closing Remarks (1 hour)
  • Votes on Articles of Impeachment
  • Verdict and Judgment
  • Resolution Memorializing the Proceedings

KELOLAND News will have livestream coverage from the Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday.