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South Dakota Supreme Court Denies Appeal in Fischer Vehicular Homicide Case

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :   Thursday, February 04, 2016
CONTACT:  Sara Rabern (605)773-3215   

 

South Dakota Supreme Court Denies Appeal in Fischer Vehicular Homicide Case

 
PIERRE, S.D.-   Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the South Dakota Supreme Court in a unanimous decision has denied Ronald Fischer’s appeal.

Fischer erroneously asserted that hospital and law enforcement personnel took blood samples from him in violation of his constitutional rights, and, therefore, the lower court erred when it refused to suppress the samples.

“Ronald Fischer’s decision to drive drunk was a senseless act that has taken two innocent lives causing a tremendous loss for both families. I commend the first responders for their efforts under difficult circumstances, and my thoughts remain with the Klumb and Spindler families,” said Jackley.

On July 8, 2013, Fischer, while driving with a blood alcohol of three times the legal limit, failed to stop at a stop sign at a highway intersection in Charles Mix County. He drove directly into a parking lot at highway speed, struck, and killed Maegan Spindler and Dr. Robert Klumb, who were standing in a parking lot. The victims, Maegan and Robert were both employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services working in the Pickstown area. 

The Supreme Court ruled that the blood drawn by hospital personnel for medical purposes is not subject to Fourth Amendment protection and suppression of the draw was not warranted. The blood draw ordered by law enforcement was properly taken pursuant to the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement based upon the totality of the circumstances. Those circumstances not requiring a warrant, and consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McNeely, were that law enforcement was required to address the urgency at the scene, including securing evidence in the event of imminent rain, covering of  body parts and evidence with tarps,  as well as traffic and crowd functions. Fischer had also suffered serious injuries that required medical attention, and the trial court found that the Deputy “felt a sense of urgency because he would have missed the [Medevac] helicopter had he stopped to obtain a warrant.”


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