FLANDREAU, S.D. – Rep. Bill Janklow (search) has put himself before South Dakota voters seven times. In six of those elections, Janklow came out the winner.
But the next tally — by a jury — could determine whether the former four-term governor and state attorney general has chance at a political future.
Twelve jurors will decide if Janklow, 64, is guilty of any crime in the Aug. 16 traffic death of Randy Scott (search) of Hardwick, Minn.
Scott, 55, was killed instantly when his motorcycle was struck by a car driven by Janklow, who suffered a broken hand and head injury.
Janklow, the state's only congressman, is accused of speeding, running a stop sign, reckless driving and second-degree manslaughter (search). If convicted of manslaughter, a felony, Janklow could face up to 10 years in prison, as well as a House ethics committee investigation.
Under the committee's rules, representatives convicted of a crime that carries two or more years in prison should refrain from voting in the chamber until they are cleared or are re-elected.
The ethics committee could issue a critical report, with no other action required. It could also recommend a House resolution reprimanding him, censuring him or even expelling him.
After five days of testimony, which included a rare session Saturday, jurors are expected to begin deliberations Monday after hearing closing arguments from both sides and receiving instructions from the judge.
Prosecutors argue that Janklow, a self-described speeder, was driving too fast that day as well and ignored a stop sign.
The defense maintains that Janklow was suffering a diabetic reaction at the time of the crash but didn't know it because the symptoms were masked by heart medication he was taking.
Janklow testified that a tight schedule had kept him from eating, even though he knew the risk of taking his insulin and not eating.
"I just plain forgot," he said. "I've asked myself that 10 million times since this day."
Janklow also has said he was taking the heart medication but stopped using it on his own sometime after the accident.
Hospital lists of his medication after the accident do not include the medication, Atenolol, and a doctor testified Saturday that he found no indication in Janklow's records he was on the drug the day of the crash.
He denied running a stop sign nearly a year ago at the same intersection and nearly hitting the truck of a woman who testified earlier in the trial. The woman said she didn't pursue charges against Janklow because he was governor at the time.
Janklow took the stand Saturday as the final defense witness. He said he has tried several times to meet with Scott's relatives but they weren't ready.
"I have to meet with them," he said, crying.