Widow of Ravnsborg’s victim wants his mental-health records kept out of AG’s criminal trial

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Court Gavel

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The wife of the Hyde County man run over and killed by a car that state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was driving doesn’t want the criminal defense lawyer to get access to the victim’s mental health records.

Retired Circuit Judge John Brown ordered last month that Joe Boever’s psychological and psychiatric records be provided to the judge from institutions at Aberdeen, Pierre and Yankton for private review. The judge will decide whether any of the information from the records is relevant to the upcoming trial.

Jenny Boever, the estranged wife, is claiming a Marsy’s Law protection over her husband’s psychological and psychiatric records.

“The records sought by the Attorney General have a high likelihood of disclosing sensitive details about Jenny,” her attorney, Scott Heidepriem of Sioux Falls, wrote in a letter to the judge that was publicly filed Tuesday.

Ravnsborg faces trial August 26-27 in Stanley County on three second-class misdemeanor driving offenses in the September 12, 2020, death of Joe Boever along US 14 at the west edge of Highmore.

Heidepriem’s letter asks that the records receive “the utmost protection” against disclosure.

“As the special administrator of Joe’s estate, Jenny has the right to claim the psychotherapist-patient privilege over Joe’s records,” Heidepriem wrote.

“In short, Jenny is entitled to substantial privacy rights pursuant to the South Dakota Constitution, and is entitled to claim privilege and protect the disclosure of psychological records on Joe’s behalf under statutory law and notions of substantive due process,” Heidepriem wrote.

He offered to participate in a conference with the prosecutors, defense attorney and judge.

Judge Brown hasn’t yet responded.

The judge has ordered the prosecutors and defense attorney by this Friday, August 13, to disclose to each other their lists of possible witnesses and evidence and to provide the judge with transcripts of any edited audio or videotape they plan to present.

Ravnsborg’s criminal defense attorney, Timothy Rensch of Rapid City, filed a motion July 9 that the judge granted for an in camera review of Joe Boever’s mental-health records.

Wrote Rensch, “In the weeks before his death Mr. Boever had apparently been committed, possibly at Yankton, was in the midst of a divorce, was severely depressed, and was spiraling out of control.”

Judge Brown sent letters for the records to Avera Medical Group and Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre; Avera St. Luke’s Hospital and Avera Medical Group Psychiatry in Aberdeen; and the state Human Services Center in Yankton.

Rensch disputes that Ravnsborg’s car struck Boever on the shoulder as North Dakota investigators determined. Rensch said a bolt in the road and paint chips that were blown to the side of the road were consistent with impact in the roadway.

Ravnsborg is charged with operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device; lane driving; and careless driving. His guilt or innocence will be up to Judge Brown. Neither side requested a jury trial.

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