Judge says AG Ravnsborg can’t use victim’s mental-health records at his trial

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The judge in the case says South Dakota Attorney Jason Ravnsborg can’t use Joe Boever’s mental-health records when Ravnsborg goes on trial this week.

Circuit Judge John Brown reached the decision after a private review requested by Ravnsborg’s defense attorney.

Ravnsborg faces three second-class misdemeanors after the car he was driving hit and killed Boever on the night of September 12, 2020.

Boever was walking along the westbound shoulder of US 14 at the west edge of Highmore in Hyde County.

Ravnsborg was returning to his home in Pierre from a Republican political event in Redfield in Spink County.

Scott Heidepriem, the attorney for widow Jenny Boever, wrote a letter in July to Judge Brown saying that the mental-health records would likely include references to her.

The letter argued that her privacy was protected under the Marsy’s Law amendment that South Dakota voters added to the state constitution.

The judge held a status hearing August 8 in the matter.

In a statement to KELOLAND News, the judge said: “The hearing dealt with the in-camera review of Mr. Boever’s medical records. No further disclosure of the records will be made.”

Ravnsborg’s trial starts Thursday in Stanley County Circuit Court. Criminal investigators from North Dakota determined from the crash scene that Ravnsborg’s vehicle was on the paved shoulder when it struck Boever.

Ravnsborg’s defense attorney, Timothy Rensch, argued that Ravnsborg’s vehicle was in its lane and Boever might have been attempting suicide.

Ravnsborg is charged with illegal lane change, operating a motor vehicle while using an electronic mobile device and careless driving. Each carries maximum sentences of 30 days in jail and $500 fine.

The first-term attorney general won the Republican nomination in 2018 and defeated a Democratic opponent that November.

Ravnsborg called 911 after the crash and said he didn’t know what he had hit. The Hyde County sheriff came to the scene and the two men looked but reportedly didn’t find anything.

Ravnsborg used the sheriff’s personal vehicle to continue to Pierre. The next day, Ravnsborg returned to the scene and found Boever’s body next to the road.

Investigators told Ravnsborg that Boever’s face had smashed through Ravnsborg’s windshield. They said Boever’s glasses were found in the front passenger seat.

Investigators said the flashlight Boever was carrying was still lit when his body was found.

After the crash, Republican Governor Kristi Noem repeatedly called for Ravnsborg to resign.

At one point, Judge Brown ordered the governor to remove from the state Department of Public Safety website two videos of Ravnsborg’s interviews with investigators.

The state House of Representatives has a bipartisan-sponsored impeachment resolution pending against Ravnsborg.

The previous attorney general, Marty Jackley, has already announced he will seek the Republican nomination in 2022.

The widow is expected to file a civil suit against Ravnsborg after the criminal trial.

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