FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, January 7, 2015
CONTACT: Sara Rabern (605) 773-3215
State Will Take No Further Action on Tragic Traffic Fatality of July 30, 2000
PIERRE, S.D. – Today Attorney General Marty J. Jackley and Meade County State’s Attorney Kevin J. Krull announced that, based on additional evidence that has surfaced, the State will take no further action against Oakley Engesser in relation to the tragic traffic fatality of Dorothy Finley.
In 2001, Oakley Engesser was charged with vehicular homicide and battery as a result of a crash near the Tilford weigh station on I-90 that killed Dorothy Finley on July 30, 2000. According to jury trial testimony, Engesser left the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, with Finley around 6:00 p.m. on July 30, 2000. They drove off in Finley’s red corvette, and around 8:10 p.m. their car collided with a minivan on I 90. They had been traveling 112 miles per hour at the time, and their car rolled over one and a half times before coming to rest upside down in the median. Finley was killed in the accident, and two of the minivan’s occupants were injured.
At the time of the crash Engesser’s blood alcohol level was approximately .125. In addition to physical evidence pointing to Engesser as the driver, the jury viewed a video recording of his interview with the Highway Patrol in which Engesser agreed he could have been driving, though he did not remember anything after leaving the Full Throttle Saloon.
Since the jury trial, new witnesses in 2007 and 2013 surfaced indicating that they saw a woman driving the Corvette shortly before the crash. Although the Supreme Court recognized that Engesser was found guilty by a jury of his peers in an error-free trial, it granted Engesser’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus and a new trial based upon the new witness information.
“Based upon the new witness testimony and the available evidence from the original trial regarding an event that occurred 14 years ago, and considering input from Dorothy Finley’s family, the State does not intend to move forward with a second trial. The State does reserve the right to evaluate any further evidence that may surface regarding any potential future action. It is my hope that the conclusion of these proceedings will help bring closure to all families that have been involved in this tragic accident,” said Attorney General Jackley.