PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Most days, brothers Nick and Victor Nemec drive past the spot where South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg struck and killed their cousin Joseph Boever with his car. And five months later, with key questions unanswered, they are frustrated that they still don’t know if the state’s top law enforcement officer will face criminal charges.
The blood stains on the rural stretch of highway have nearly disappeared, a faint reminder of the September night when Ravnsborg struck Boever as he drove home from a Republican fundraiser.
The attorney general has said he is confident he did not commit a crime. According to a statement he released in September, Ravnsborg at first thought he had hit a deer and only discovered he had killed a man when he returned to the crash scene the next morning.
But investigators have said the attorney general was distracted and turned their findings over to prosecutors. The attorneys deciding whether to charge Ravnsborg have taken months to further assess the crash.
That’s left the Nemec brothers with questions: How did Ravnsborg not realize he had hit a man? How did the sheriff who responded to the crash not find Boever’s body, which appeared to be lying just feet from the pavement? What caused Ravnsborg to swerve onto the shoulder of the road where investigators say Boever was walking?
The brothers have little to go on except for one notebook page they filled with measurements of tire skid marks and blood streaks at the crash scene.
“You reach a point of resignation,” Nick Nemec said. “You get beat down by the system and you just kind of resign.”
Michael Moore, a state’s attorney from Beadle County who is helping the local prosecutor, Emily Sovell, with the case, said some answers will come in the “next few weeks.” Sovell has not responded to requests for comment.
“The question that everybody is waiting for is, is he is criminally responsible for the death?” Moore said.
Prosecutors are trying to find whether Ravnsborg purposely disregarded safe driving. They are pulling together cellphone GPS data, video footage from along the route Ravnsborg was driving and DNA evidence in an effort to assess whether he should be criminally charged.
Ravnsborg accumulated eight traffic tickets, including six for speeding, from 2004 to 2019.
Moore said he understands the frustration with waiting for a decision in such a high-profile case, but that it was not unusual for a criminal crash investigation to take this long.
But Gov. Kristi Noem, who oversaw the Department of Public Safety’s investigation, has expressed frustration at how the investigation has dragged. She said this week that she did not know why it has taken prosecutors five months, but was hopeful they would “come to an agreement” on charges.
Ravnsborg said this week that he hoped prosecutors would take however long they feel is “appropriate.”
But he also hinted he is impatient, saying: “I think that everybody involved would like to have the answer.”