Janklow is sentenced to 100 days in jail

S.D. ex-congressman killed a motorcyclist

January 23, 2004|By P.J. Huffstutter | P.J. Huffstutter,LOS ANGELES TIMES

FLANDREAU, S.D. -- William J. Janklow, the former congressman who resigned his seat after being convicted of second-degree manslaughter, was sentenced yesterday to serve 100 days in a county jail.

Circuit Court Judge Rodney Steele ordered Janklow to surrender himself to the Minnehaha County Correction Center in Sioux Falls on Feb. 7. After 30 days, Janklow will be allowed to leave the jail for 10 hours a day, six days a week, in order to perform community service.

Saying Janklow "is truly remorseful" and will suffer a "special humiliation not encountered by a private citizen," Steele issued a suspended imposition of sentence.

That means that if the former lawmaker successfully completes his jail time and three-year probation, the record of the felony conviction will be sealed -- effectively removing it from his record.

"I understand. I killed somebody," Janklow, 64, told the judge in a voice so quiet it could barely be heard in the back of the crowded courtroom. "I can't be punished more than I'm punishing myself."

Steele ordered Janklow to pay the county $50 for each day he spends in jail and more than $5,400 in penalties. He also will lose his driver's license through his probation period.

In early December, a jury in Janklow's hometown of Flandreau convicted the politician of recklessly speeding, running a stop sign and killing Randolph E. Scott, a 55-year-old motorcyclist from Minnesota.

Hours later, the state's then-lone congressman announced he would resign. His attorneys are seeking a new trial.

Legal experts noted that because South Dakota does not have mandatory minimum sentencing laws, Steele had wide latitude in setting Janklow's punishment.

An Associated Press review of court documents found that 40 people in the state have been found guilty of second-degree manslaughter since 1989 and that 32 of those served some time behind bars. The average detention term was six months.

The former congressman's habit of speeding was legendary. He joked about it when he was governor in a 1999 state of the state address: "Bill Janklow speeds when he drives -- shouldn't, but he does. When he gets the ticket, he pays it. But if someone told me I was going to jail for two days for speeding, my driving habits would change."

Janklow got 12 speeding tickets from 1990 to 1994. He did not receive another ticket in the state after he was elected to his third term as governor in 1994.

The long-time politician even referred to that habit yesterday.

During his political career, Janklow told the judge, "I had a lot of places to go, and a lot of things to do. I'm not trying to make excuses, I'm just telling you that's reality."

After Steele announced the sentence, both the Janklow and Scott families rushed out of the courthouse. No one commented on the decision.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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