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South Dakota court orders sharing of crash victims’ files

SIOUX FALLS, SD (AP) – A judge overseeing the criminal trial of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has ordered medical providers to turn over their medical records for the pedestrian who was struck and killed by Ravnsborg last year .

This week, retired Circuit Court Judge John Brown sent letters to several hospitals and clinics, ordering them to provide records on Joe Boever’s psychiatric condition. The order comes after Ravnsborg’s defense alleged in court documents that Boever’s death on September 12 may have been suicide.

Investigators say Ravnsborg was distracted and deviated from his lane while driving on Freeway 14 near Highmore when he struck and killed Boever, a 55-year-old man who was walking along the freeway with a flashlight. Ravnsborg faces three charges of reckless driving, using an electronic device while driving and unlawfully changing lanes.

Earlier this month, Ravnsborg lawyers filed a petition alleging that a pattern of alcoholism and prescription drug abuse by Boever made at least one family member, a cousin, believe that a depressed Boever committed suicide by jumping in front of Ravnsborg’s car.

According to the Argus Leader, Brown ordered five health facilities to turn over Boever’s psychiatric and psychological records. Brown sent letters Tuesday to the Human Services Center, the State Public Mental Hospital in Yankton, as well as the Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, the Avera St. Luke Hospital in Aberdeen, Avera Medical Group and Avera Medical Group Psychiatry.

All four Avera entities have filed claims against Boever’s estate to receive payment for the services they provided to him. The allegations do not indicate what services were provided. Avera did not respond to Leader Argus’ request for comment.

Ravnsborg told authorities he had never seen Boever and believed he had hit a deer.

Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek responded to the scene and let Ravnsborg drive his car to Peter. Ravnsborg said they did not realize he hit and killed a person until he returned to the scene the next morning.

GOP Governor Kristi Noem, three law enforcement organizations and some lawmakers have called on Ravnsborg, a Republican, to step down.

Each charge against the Attorney General carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in prison. A trial is due to begin on August 26.

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