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Judge orders release of mental health records of man killed in crash by attorney general
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Judge orders release of mental health records of man killed in crash by attorney general

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A judge overseeing the criminal trial of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has ordered medical providers to turn over their health records for the pedestrian who was struck and killed by Ravnsborg last year.

Retired Circuit Court Judge John Brown issued letters this week to several hospitals and clinics, ordering them to provide records about Joe Boever’s psychiatric state. The order comes after Ravnsborg’s defense alleged in court documents that Boever’s Sept. 12 death may have been a suicide.

Investigators say Ravnsborg was distracted and swerved out of his lane when he was driving on Highway 14 near Highmore when he struck and killed Boever, a 55-year-old who was walking along the highway with a flashlight. Ravnsborg faces three misdemeanor charges of careless driving, use of an electronic device while driving and illegal lane change.

Earlier this month, Ravnsborg’s attorneys filed a motion alleging that a pattern of alcoholism and prescription drug abuse by Boever that caused at least one family member, a cousin, to believe that a depressed Boever killed himself by jumping in front of Ravnsborg’s car.

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

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

Ravnsborg told officials he never saw Boever and thought he struck a deer.

Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek responded to the scene and let Ravnsborg drive his car home to Pierre. Ravnsborg said they didn’t realize he hit and killed a person until he returned to the scene the next morning.

GOP Gov. Kristi Noem, three law enforcement organizations and some legislators have called on Ravnsborg, a Republican, to resign.

Each charge against the attorney general carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail. A trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 26.

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