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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

SB 44 Fails: Father Of Vehicular Homicide Victim Calls For Initiated Measure

A New York man whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver in South Dakota says his family intends to attempt an initiated measure to designate vehicular homicide as a crime of violence.

Maegan Spindler and Robert Klumb were killed at Pickstown by Ronald Ray Fischer in July 2013. He was sentenced to the maximum 15 years for each death, to be served consecutively. For a nonviolent crime, he'll come up for parole after serving 30 percent of the sentence.

Gregg Spindler sent out a statement Thursday morning shortly after a legislative conference committee failed to agree on amended versions of Senate Bill 44.

Spindler testified by phone before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February.

"Maegan actually survived a short while after being thrown 120 feet," Spindler told the committee. "There were no viewable remains, no last look. Rob was killed instantly. It was a horrifically violent crime.... While the headline sentence of 30 years in prison was trumpeted in the media, in practice, Fischer will serve only four and a half years for killing our daughter because of presumed parole. Vehicular homicide is classified as not a crime of violence. We ask you to consider whether Maegan and Rob met violent deaths. There is only one answer to that question."

The original bill raised vehicular homicide to a crime of violence. That would require an inmate to serve 50 percent of the sentence before coming up for parole.

The Senate hoghoused the bill and added a new law, aggravated vehicular homicide, a class 2 violent felony with a maximum 25 year sentence.

The House then amended the bill again and returned it to its original version. Debate centered on whether a drunk driver has the criminal intent to commit a crime of violence.

Because the two chambers couldn't arrive at a compromise, the bill failed to pass.

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