Judge wants Ravnsborg trial this summer

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The defense attorney for South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said in court Wednesday he needs more time to prepare for a criminal trial.

His client is accused of three misdemeanor traffic violations in the September 12, 2020, death of pedestrian Joe Boever along U.S. 14 at the west edge of Highmore.

Retired Circuit Judge John Brown told lawyers a second status hearing will be held in the early part of July. He wants the trial in August or early September.

“I don’t see any reason we should go out beyond that,” the judge said.

The hearing was by telephone. It lasted about six minutes. Ravnsborg wasn’t on the call.

Boever’s widow, Jenny, was in the courtroom with her mother and two other men, as was one of Boever’s cousins, Nick Nemec of rural Holabird.

Ravnsborg’s lawyer, Tim Rensch of Rapid City, told the judge there were “gaps” in the information provided to him by the prosecution.

Rensch said there were “five or ten” reports and five interviews he still needed. “I’ve gone through and can’t find these things I’ve requested,” he said.

Rensch said he was able to hire on Tuesday an accident reconstruction expert to analyze the scene where Ravnsborg’s red Taurus struck and killed Boever.

“And that’s going to take some time,” Rensch said.

Investigators determined Boever was walking on the shoulder.

“The point of impact is the big question here,” Rensch told the judge.

Rensch asked for 60 more days for discovery. “We’ve been diligently working on this,” he said.

The lead prosecutor is Emily Sovell of Onida. She is the deputy state’s attorney for Hyde County, where the crash happened, and is the state’s attorney for neighboring Sully County.

“Certainly the state doesn’t want the case to linger any longer than necessary,” Sovell told the judge. She said she would defer to him, adding, “But I understand their position.”

Nemec, the cousin, talked with news reporters after the hearing. KELOLAND News asked about the wife’s state of mind,

“I see her around town on occasion and visit with her,” Nemec said. “Angry — frustrated with the system.”

“Life continues for her. She has to go to work every day,” he added, saying she took a day of leave Wednesday for the hearing and would take another day in July for the next hearing.

Nemec suggested it would be easier if the schedule was posted online and if the public could listen — muted — to any future teleconferences.

Judge Brown said the July status hearing might be in person. The judge and the lawyers participated by telephone Wednesday. Nemec said he made a one-hour drive from his farm and the widow had another 15 or 20 minutes more of highway time.

“If everybody else gets the convenience of not having to come to Pierre and spend two hours on the road, it would be nice if the victims didn’t have to,” Nemec said.

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