Former U.S. Rep. and Gov. Bill Janklow left jail Monday, 100 days after he began serving his sentence for an accident that killed a motorcyclist.
Janklow, carrying a large accordion file under one arm and a brown grocery bag in the other, walked out of the jail, past a crowd of reporters, and left in a vehicle driven by a longtime friend.
“We love you, man,” family friend Matt Rost yelled as Janklow walked outside. Janklow hugged another who complimented him on his obvious weight loss while incarcerated.
A jury in Janklow’s hometown of Flandreau convicted him in December of speeding, running a stop sign, reckless driving and second-degree manslaughter for an Aug. 16 accident that killed Randy Scott of Hardwick, Minn.
Scott, 55, died instantly. Janklow, 64, suffered a broken hand and bleeding on the brain.
Janklow, a Republican who served four terms as governor, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002. He resigned Jan. 20 and started serving his jail time Feb. 7.
Janklow, who blamed the crash on a diabetic condition, has appealed his manslaughter and reckless driving convictions to the South Dakota Supreme Court. His law license is suspended at least until that is resolved.
Judge Rodney Steele also fined Janklow $5,750, ordered him to pay $5,000 for his incarceration and put him on probation for three years, during which he won’t be allowed to drive. The convictions will be erased from his record if he complies with terms of the sentence.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said Janklow was given no special treatment during his incarceration, except that he was placed away from other inmates who may have tried to seek revenge for his years as attorney general or governor.
Republican Larry Diedrich, a former state legislator, will meet Democrat Stephanie Herseth in a June 1 special election to fill Janklow’s House seat. Herseth lost a close race to Janklow in 2002.
‘Slap on the wrist’
A couple of men on hand for the release said they don’t think Janklow served enough time in jail.
“We’re here to see the face Janklow’s going to have after his 100 days. He’s lucky. I just got out after eight months for DUI,” said Mark Stricherz, 23. His friend Jason Hendricks called the sentence “a slap on the wrist.”
Also on hand was Merlyn Schutterle, who has had run-ins with Janklow over the years and claims authorities unfairly accused him of being a child molester. Janklow had said an argument with Schutterle on Aug. 16 had upset him and was one of the reasons he didn’t eat that day, leading to a diabetic reaction that Janklow said caused the crash.
Prosecutors said Janklow, a longtime unapologetic speeder, concocted the defense as an excuse for his reckless driving. Prosecution experts said it was highly dangerous for a diabetic who takes insulin to go long hours without food.