- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2003

FLANDREAU, S.D. (AP) — Rep. Bill Janklow was traveling 71 mph in a 55 mph zone when he ran a stop sign and drove into the path of a motorcyclist, a state trooper testified yesterday at the congressman’s manslaughter trial.

An aide who was with the former four-term South Dakota governor at the time of the crash testified that he believed Mr. Janklow slowed before the accident.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Gene Barthel, an accident reconstructionist, used a large map to show jurors the location of roads, stop signs, Mr. Janklow’s Cadillac, the motorcycle and the body of its rider, Randy Scott.

He said he based his estimate of Mr. Janklow’s speed on a scientific formula that takes into account the vehicles’ weights, paths and positions.

Mr. Janklow, 64, is charged with second-degree manslaughter, speeding, running a stop sign and reckless driving in the Aug. 16 collision that killed Mr. Scott, 55, of Hardwick, Minn.

Defense attorney Ed Evans acknowledges that Mr. Janklow was speeding but said the congressman did not see the stop sign because he had a diabetic reaction that caused him to become disoriented.

Chris Braendlin, an aide who was in the car with Mr. Janklow, testified yesterday that the congressman didn’t have anything to eat that day but seemed fine on the trip. He said the car’s speed changed.

“I remember slowing down but I don’t remember where,” Mr. Braendlin said.

He also said he remembered seeing a motorcycle.

“This is one event. And I can’t recall what order,” Mr. Braendlin said. “It was motorcycle, flash, spinning.”

Sgt. Barthel said Mr. Scott was traveling at 59 mph on an east-west road that did not have a stop sign. Neither driver took any evasive action, he said.

The motorcycle hit the back of Mr. Janklow’s car and Mr. Scott’s body slammed into the car’s trunk before landing in a field, the officer testified. Mr. Janklow’s car spun around several times before stopping, he said.

The trial threatens to derail the career of an imposing figure in South Dakota politics. Mr. Janklow, a Republican, is a former state attorney general who served 16 years as governor during two stints before being elected to the state’s only House seat last year.

On Tuesday, a friend who had been riding another motorcycle ahead of Mr. Scott wept on the witness stand. “I kneeled down to see if he had a pulse and he didn’t,” Terry Johnson said.

The jury also saw a videotape taken by the Highway Patrol just hours after the accident in which Mr. Janklow was told Mr. Scott’s name and birth date. Mr. Janklow said something about Mr. Scott not even being 60 years old, then asked about his family, paused, sighed and said: “Jesus.”

If convicted of manslaughter, the maximum punishment is 10 years in prison. It would also prompt the House ethics panel to investigate Mr. Janklow.


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