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Boever’s psychiatric records allowed in fatal crash trial against AG Ravnsborg

The trial for Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who struck and killed Joe Boever last September, is still scheduled for late August.
Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 5:05 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (KOTA) - Joseph Boever’s psychiatric records will be allowed in the trial against South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.

Judge John Brown, the judge presiding over the case, granted a motion by Tim Rensch, Ravnsborg’s legal counsel, for in-camera review of the mental health records of Boever.

“If there is something there, that is relevant information, that would draw into question reasonable doubt,” Rensch argued.

The State’s Attorney prosecuting the case, Emily Sovell, pushed back on Rensch’s assessment, arguing that the three misdemeanor charges that Ravnsborg faces do not amount to pulling extensive mental health records on Boever.

“This is not a homicide or a murder case,” Sovell said in response. “Mr. Boever is not on trial, his psychological state is not on trial.”

Ravnsborg’s defense attorney filed the motion on Friday, July 9th, requesting access to Joseph Boever’s psychiatric records. In the paperwork that was filed, Ravnsborg’s legal team says that Boever once told a cousin living out of the state that his preferred method of suicide would be to “throw himself in front of a car.” Rensch said that this relevation was “super important” to their defense.

Rensch also suggested during the hearing that debris found at the scene of the accident may point to Ravnsborg never having left his lane of traffic, conflicting with the state’s report on the accident.

Boever’s family confirmed he had been admitted to a mental health clinic for depression in the year leading up to his death, but said he never considered killing himself. They signaled strong disagreement with the decision on the motion.

“I think its unnecessary, these are misdemeanor traffic violations,” said Victor Nemec, Boever’s cousin. “His state of mind shouldn’t have anything to do with that, it is all in the initial investigative report.”

“These are class two misdemeanors... low level offenses,” Judge Brown said while weighing the decision to grant the motion. “Nevertheless, rights to a due trial seem to support Mr. Rensch’s arguement.”

Brown also agreed with the state’s argument that the case will have to do more with measurements and where Ravnsborg’s car was in the road, and less to do with Boever’s mental health records. Further, he made a point to say that the cell phone charge was not necessarily relevant to the mental health records.

The trial, originally scheduled to take place in Highmore at the Hyde County courthouse, will now take place at the Stanley County courthouse in Fort Pierre, on account of the fact that the Hyde County courthouse does not have air conditioning.

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