The South Dakota prosecutors who charged Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg with misdemeanors in a 2020 fatal car crash defended their charging decision Thurs to the House panel weighing whether Ravnsborg should face impeachment charges.
Lead prosecutor and Hyde County Deputy State’s Attorney Emily Sovell and Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore, who assisted, both insisted they were not swayed by pressure from Gov Kristi Noem or the fact that the outside investigators from North Dakota doubted Ravnsborg’s account of the crash were enough to sway them.
Moore told the House Investigation Committee that prosecutors bring only charges they can prove and that they need facts to prove a defendant is guilty of a crime before that person can be charged.
Sovell said Noem crossed the line in releasing video of Ravnsborg interview with investigators, explaining it made the job of the prosecution harder and could have tainted a jury.
The House Committee also questioned 2 of the attorney general’s top aides on Thursday about his conduct after he hit and killed 55-year old Joe Boever, who was walking along a rural highway.
Ravnsborg insists he thought he hit an animal and did know it was Boever until he found the body the next morning while returning a borrowed car. Tim Bormann, his chief of staff, was with him and said his boss was “very shook” by the discovery.
The lawmakers asked David Natvig, director of the Division of Criminal Investigations – part of the AG’s office – about Ravnsborg asking the North Dakota investigators what a forensic investigation of his phones might reveal.
Natvig, who was present for part of that conversation, described it as “pretty innocuous” between individuals who knew each other and downplayed a report on it by a DCI supervisory agent – calling it the thorough work of a seasoned investigator.
The impeachment committee has scheduled its next meeting for March 10, the final day of the current legislative session, but has given no indication who it might call as a witness or what the next direction of the probe might be.