- The Washington Times - Friday, December 5, 2003

FLANDREAU, S.D. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow appears to have had symptoms consistent with a diabetic reaction before the Aug. 16 crash that killed a motorcyclist, an expert on the disease testified yesterday during the South Dakota Republican’s manslaughter trial.

Dr. Fred Lovrien of Sioux Falls, also a diabetic, said he examined Mr. Janklow after initially being skeptical about a proposed medical defense.

He said he concluded after examining Mr. Janklow on Oct. 27, reviewing his medical records and talking with him about his activities in the hours before the crash that it was possible Mr. Janklow had been suffering from low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia the day of the crash.

Mr. Janklow may not have felt the early symptoms because it was hot when he spoke at an event that morning and because he had had an angry exchange with a heckler, Dr. Lovrien said.

He said Mr. Janklow also said he was taking the medication Atenolol, which could hide symptoms of a diabetic reaction, Dr. Lovrien said. Atenolol is in a class of drugs called beta-blockers, which affect the heart and circulatory system.

But on cross-examination, deputy prosecutor Roger Ellyson noted that Atenolol wasn’t on the list of medications Mr. Janklow said he was taking the day after the Aug. 16 accident and again on Sept. 4.

Dr. Lovrien acknowledged it would be unwise for any doctor to prescribe such a medication for Mr. Janklow because it would worsen his cold-induced asthma.

Mr. Ellyson also asked Dr. Lovrien if it would be unusual for someone to go 20 hours without eating, as several witnesses have said Mr. Janklow did on Aug. 16.

“Yes, it would be unusual,” Dr. Lovrien said. When a diabetic takes insulin but doesn’t eat, the person can get fatigued and pass out, according to testimony.

After the cross-examination, Dr. Lovrien told Ed Evans, Mr. Janklow’s lawyer, that his opinion is still that Mr. Janklow likely suffered from low blood sugar about the time of the accident — but only if he had not eaten.

“The one thing that would change it dramatically is if he ate something during the day,” Dr. Lovrien said.

The defense hopes to prove that Mr. Janklow’s diabetes was at fault when the congressman sped his car through a stop sign, putting his Cadillac into the path of a motorcycle driven by Randy Scott, who died after hitting the car.

Prosecutors argue that Mr. Janklow made a conscious decision to speed and ignore the stop sign.

The former four-term governor and only congressman from South Dakota is charged with second-degree manslaughter, running a stop sign, reckless driving and speeding. If convicted of manslaughter, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a House ethics committee investigation.

His lawyer indicated Mr. Janklow may take the stand in his own defense.

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