Another politician has stumbled over his own inflated ego. He is leaving Congress as a result.
FLANDREAU, South Dakota (AP) – Rep. Bill Janklow announced Monday he will resign from Congress after being convicted earlier in the day of manslaughter in a collision that killed a motorcyclist.
“I wish to inform you that because of present circumstances, I will be unable to perform the duties incumbent on me in representing the people of South Dakota as their U.S. representative,” Janklow wrote in a letter that he said was to be sent to House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Tuesday.
“Therefore I wish to inform you that I will resign from the House of Representatives, effective January 20, 2004.” It is the same date Janklow is scheduled to be sentenced for his manslaughter conviction.
Janklow was convicted Monday of manslaughter for a collision that killed a motorcyclist. The jury rejected the congressman’s claim that he was disoriented by a diabetic reaction.
Janklow, 64, was charged with reckless driving, running a stop sign, speeding and second-degree manslaughter for the August 16 crash at a rural intersection that killed motorcyclist Randy Scott, 55.
Janklow could face up to 10 years in prison.
The politician tried to blame the collision on a diabetic reaction that caused him to become disoriented at trial. However, he had told officers at the scene he was trying to avoid a car when the motorcyclist, expecting him to halt at a stop sign, collided with him. He also alluded to having a heart condition at trial, perhaps in a bid for sympathy. However, Janklow appears to be overly talkative. His testimony contradicted information he had given to emergency medical personnel after the collision.
Janklow testified tearfully about the crash Saturday. He said 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. As for why, “I’ve asked myself that 10 million times since this day.”
[Prosecutor Roger] Ellyson contended Janklow didn’t suffer a diabetic reaction at the time of the accident.
Janklow told an emergency medical technician that he had eaten earlier in the day and told another EMT that he had checked his blood glucose level, Ellyson said.
“If you believe the incredible story that the defendant, a 240-pound man, didn’t eat for 18 hours, he’s still guilty,” he said.
That’s because that as a diabetic, Janklow should have made sure he didn’t let himself get low on blood sugar, Ellyson said. The state Supreme Court has ruled that in the case of a fatal auto accident, reckless behavior includes a driver’s “a conscious and unjustifiable disregard of a substantial risk.”
Testimony by the expert who reconstructed the collision was also damning for Janklow.
FLANDREAU, South Dakota (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 Wednesday at the congressman’s manslaughter trial.
Highway Patrol Sgt. Gene Barthel, an accident reconstructionist, used a large map to show jurors the location of roads, stop signs, Janklow’s Cadillac, the motorcycle and the body of its rider, Randy Scott.
He said he based his estimate of Janklow’s speed on a scientific formula that takes into account the vehicles’ weights, paths and positions.
Barthel said Scott was traveling at 59 mph and that neither driver took any evasive action. The east-west road Scott was on did not have stop signs.
The motorcycle hit the back of Janklow’s car and Scott’s body slammed into the car’s trunk before landing in a field, the officer testified. Janklow’s car spun around several times before stopping, he said.
Janklow, longtime governor of South Dakota, fancies himself a libertarian. He has long argued against firm speed limits and has compiled a stack of speeding tickets to confirm his opposition to traffic laws. Last year, he ran the same stop sign and crashed into a car. The victim did not press charges because he was still governor at the time.
So, we have a defendant who:
Caused a death.
Has a history of the illegal behavior that resulted in the death.
Lied on the witness stand.
Shows no remorse.
What will become of him? If Janklow were a regular guy, that question would be easy to answer. One could expect him to be sentenced at the high end of the maximum ten years allowed. But, he is not. He is white, reasonably wealthy, and one of the most influential people in his state. We will await Janklow’s sentencing and see if justice occurs.