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Bill Janklow

William John Janklow (born September 13, 1939), American politican, announced his resignation from the United States House of Representatives in December 2003 following his conviction on manslaughter charges following a traffic accident.

Janklow was born in Chicago, Illinois. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1956 to 1959. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1964 and received a law degree in 1966. During his political career Janklow, a Republican, served as South Dakota's attorney general (1975-1979), and served four terms as Governor of South Dakota (1979-1987) and (1995-2003). In 2002, Janklow was elected to South Dakota's only House of Representatives seat.

Manslaughter conviction

On August 16, 2003, Janklow was involved in a traffic accident when his white Cadillac hit 55-year old motorcyclist Randolph E. Scott at a rural intersection near Trent, South Dakota. Scott was thrown from his vehicle and instantly killed. Janklow suffered a broken hand and bleeding on the brain. In the ensuing investigation of the accident, it was determined Janklow had been driving at least 71 miles per hour in a 55-mph zone and that he had run a stop sign at the intersection where the collision occurred.

Janklow was arraigned on August 29 on charges of felony manslaughter and several misdemeanor counts. In response, Janklow said he "couldn't be sorrier" for the accident. His trial began on December 1 when he pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. In his defense, his lawyer argued that Janklow suffered a bout of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and was thus "confused" and "mixed up". Janklow testified that he had taken an insulin shot the morning of the accident and had subsequently not eaten anything throughout day, resulting in low blood sugar. Jurors were not informed of Janklow's record of three previous accidents and twelve speeding violations.

On December 8, 2003, Janklow was convicted by a jury in Moody County of second-degree manslaughter, a felony which carries a maximum 10-year prison term and a $10,000 fine. He was also convicted on three related misdemeanors of failure to stop, speeding, and reckless driving. The first two misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. The top penalty for reckless driving is one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. On 2003 December 19, he filed a motion to have his conviction overturned on grounds of insufficient evidence.

Sentencing will occur on January 20, 2004. Janklow has announced that he will resign from Congress, effective from the date of his sentencing. His replacement will be chosen in the South Dakota primary election on June 1, 2004.

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