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Ravnsborg attorney: Victim struck on shoulder of road may've initiated collision

The lawyer defending South Dakota's attorney general says he'll ask a circuit judge to open up medical files the victim to suggest the victim had a history of mental illness. However, motions were due last month, and it's unclear whether the judge will allow the request.

A memorial sign marks the general location along U.S. Highway 14 west of Highmore, S.D., where local man Joseph Boever, 55, died after being struck by a car driven by South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. (Christopher Vondracek / Forum News Service)
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PIERRE, S.D. — A defense lawyer for South Dakota's attorney general — who drove onto the shoulder on a Saturday night last September and struck and killed a man with his Ford Taurus — now says he wants medical records that may show the victim, Joe Boever, intentionally collided with the vehicle as a suicide attempt.

Jason Ravnsborg's defense attorney will ask for "exculpatory information" concerning what he alleges is Boever's "suicidal ideation," said an undated filing titled "Motion for psychiatric and/or psychological records" that Rapid City, S.D.-based trial attorney Timothy Rensch provided to media last Friday, July 9.

All motions were due June 28, so it's unclear if the motion will be granted. In email to Forum News Service on Monday, July 12, Rensch said the dilatory filing was made "in agreement of the parties."

Ravnsborg, South Dakota's attorney general, is being charged by a state's attorney with three criminal driving violations stemming from Sept. 12, 2020, when he crossed the white lines with all four tires on a stretch of U.S. Highway 14 less than a mile west of Highmore, S.D., striking Boever, who was found in a ditch by Ravnsborg the next morning after he'd returned to return a car the local sheriff loaned him.

A two-day trial is to commence late in August, and Rensch will appear on Monday, July 12, in a Pierre courthouse for a preliminary hearing. Rensch, a seasoned defense attorney, has also requested video cameras and recording equipment be barred from the August proceedings.


The records request would represent an escalation in a defense strategy that has largely been unseen so far by the public. At the only previous hearing, Rensch stated he had a "mountain" of evidence to cull, but otherwise remained vague on what he'd hoped to find.

This filing, however, suggests an interview with a cousin of Boever's reveals that the victim — who'd been walking to town with a gas can for his stalled pick-up after 10 p.m. — had suggested he'd considered suicide previously, even via an automobile collision.

Rensch says the records are necessary to "present a complete and meaningful defense."

The attorney general is charged with three criminal charges, which could total nearly 100 days in jail .

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