On a remote section of highway in a sparsely populated part of South Dakota, the state’s highest-ranking law enforcement official struck and killed a man while returning from a Republican Party dinner one night in late summer.
In the months since, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg hasn’t missed a day of work—and has not faced any charge in connection with the death of Joe Boever.
Many South Dakotans are growing restless, including Boever’s family. Markers indicating a death went up at the crash site on Highway 14 in Hyde County last week, a grim reminder of the tragedy that had cousin Nick Nemec in tears.
“I’m very disappointed,” he told The Daily Beast during a video call. “Next week will mark five months since the crash. I’ve prepared myself mentally for some sort of guilty plea to a minor traffic violation on the order of ‘crossing the white line.’”
Gov. Kristi Noem, like Ravnsvorg a Republican elected in 2018, has also questioned why it is taking so long for the investigation to conclude.
“We continue to call it a great disservice to the victim’s family,” Noem said at a Jan. 21 press conference. “I am disappointed that we haven’t seen some action taken by the states attorney involved and hope certainly that they soon will.”
Noem cannot remove or even suspend Ravnsborg, according to the governor’s communications director, Ian Fury.
“Since the attorney general is a separately elected constitutional official, she has no such authority,” Fury said.
The person who will decide what if any charges will be filed is Emily Sovell, the Sully County state’s attorney and the Hyde County deputy state’s attorney. Sovell is handling the case for her father, Hyde County State’s Attorney Merlin Voorhees, who is not involved in the investigation or the charging decision. No reason for that has been provided. (Voorhees, who was disbarred in 1980 for his role in a cattle feedlot scheme, was reinstated to the bar in 1987. He has served as state’s attorney in both Sully and Hyde counties.)
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