SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The state's highest court on Thursday upheld Bill Janklow's (search) conviction for a 2003 crash that killed a motorcyclist, rejecting the former congressman's argument that there wasn't enough evidence for a guilty verdict.
Ruling unanimously, the South Dakota Supreme Court also found that Janklow had received a fair trial (search).
Janklow, 65, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and reckless driving for killing 55-year-old motorcyclist Randy Scott (search) in August 2003 on a rural highway near Trent.
Authorities said Janklow sped through a stop sign. Janklow has said he was in a diabetic stupor and remembers nothing about the crash.
Janklow declined to discuss the ruling Thursday. "I haven't commented on it since this all started, the date of my accident, and I'm not going to start talking about it now," he said.
Janklow, a political power in South Dakota who also served four terms as governor, resigned from the House in January 2004, a month after his conviction.
He completed a 100-day jail sentence but had hoped to use the appeal to clear the felony from his record.
The appeal was heard by five circuit judges after all five Supreme Court justices disqualified themselves from the case because Janklow had appointed four of them and had named the fifth justice earlier as a circuit judge.
Janklow had acknowledged that he was speeding but argued that the state proved only that he ran the stop sign. The prosecution said he disregarded a substantial risk by speeding through a blind intersection.
"There was sufficient evidence from which the jury could conclude that Janklow was aware of, yet disregarded, the risk of an accident occurring as a result of his conduct," Circuit Judge Glen Severson wrote.
The high court also said the trial judge did not commit a reversible error when he allowed jurors to hear about two other close calls Janklow apparently had in traffic.
"To prove recklessness as an element of second-degree manslaughter, the state had the burden of showing that Janklow consciously disregarded a substantial risk," Severson wrote.