- The Washington Times - Friday, August 29, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESS

FLANDREAU, S.D. — U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow was charged yesterday with second-degree manslaughter in the death of a motorcyclist. He was killed when the congressman reportedly ran a stop sign at more than 70 mph.

If convicted of the felony charge, Mr. Janklow could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Mr. Janklow, a Republican, served 16 years as governor and four years as state attorney general before being elected to the state’s only U.S. House seat last year.

The 63-year-old congressman, one of the state’s most powerful politicians, is still recovering from injuries sustained in the crash and was not immediately available for comment.

According to the accident report, Mr. Janklow was driving more than 70 mph when his Cadillac went through a stop sign at a rural intersection Aug. 16 and the motorcycle hit the side of his car. The crash broke Mr. Janklow’s right hand and he sustained a head injury. The motorcyclist, a 55-year-old farmer from Minnesota, died at the scene.

Moody County State’s Attorney Bill Ellingson said yesterday that the facts of the case establish probable cause for a charge of second-degree manslaughter, but not vehicular homicide, which would require the driver to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In addition to the felony, the prosecutor charged Mr. Janklow with three misdemeanors: failure to stop, going 71 in a 55 mile an hour zone and reckless driving. The first two carry a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail, while the top penalty for reckless driving is one year in jail.

The congressman had been on his way home to Brandon after an event in Aberdeen and a stop in Flandreau when his car went through the intersection and was struck just behind the driver’s door by a Harley-Davidson ridden by Randy Scott of Hardwick, Minn.

Mr. Scott’s mother, Marcella Scott, and family thanked the Highway Patrol for its investigation and Mr. Ellingson for his consideration of charges.

“Although no judge or jury can bring Randy back to us, we view the criminal charges filed today as both reasonable and appropriate,” she said in a statement.

His initial court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday in Flandreau. If he wants a preliminary hearing, one would be scheduled then and bond would also be set, Mr. Ellingson said.

Mr. Janklow’s son and his doctor had earlier said it would be unlikely that the congressman would return to work next week, when Congress reconvenes, because he is still recovering.

A self-proclaimed speeder, Mr. Janklow got 12 speeding tickets in 11 South Dakota counties from 1990 to 1994 and paid more than $1,000 in fines. He often drove 15- to 20- mph faster than legal speed limits and once got caught going 90 mph in a 65-mph zone.

Mr. Janklow’s son, Russell Janklow, said yesterday it would be inappropriate to talk publicly about the case. He said the family had talked about the charges and there was no discussion of the congressman resigning.

“We believe we have a system in place that will deal with this, the judicial system, and we believe in it,” he said.

Before the accident, Mr. Janklow was mentioned as a potential candidate against Sen. Tom Daschle, Democrat and minority leader, who plans to seek re-election next year.

If Mr. Janklow did decide to resign, Republican Gov. Mike Rounds would call a special election within three months to fill the seat.

If the congressman was convicted of a felony, the House ethics committee would automatically investigate. The committee’s rules say representatives who plead guilty or are convicted of a crime that carries more than two years in prison can’t vote in the chamber until his or her record is cleared, or until re-elected.


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