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Congressman takes stand in own manslaughter trial; says he remembers nothing about crash
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Rep. Bill Janklow leaves the courthouse in Flandreau, S.D., here he is on trial on charges of 2nd degree manslaughter. (MPR Photo/Cara Hetland)

Flandreau, S.D. — (AP) Rep. Bill Janklow took the stand as the final defense witness at his manslaughter trial Saturday, crying as he talked about the motorcyclist who died in the traffic accident he is accused of causing.

The former governor and state attorney general said he remembers nothing about the crash at a rural crossroads on Aug. 16. He admitted speeding, but responded "I don't know" or "I don't recall" to many of his lawyer's questions about events before and after the accident.

Janklow, 64, is charged with second-degree manslaughter, running a stop sign, reckless driving and speeding in the crash that killed Randy Scott, 55, of Hardwick, Minn., when Janklow's Cadillac crossed the path of Scott's motorcycle.

Scott, 55, was killed instantly. Janklow suffered a broken hand and a head injury.

Saturday was the sixth day of the trial. Closing arguments are expected on Monday.

Janklow said he had tried several times to meet with Scott's relatives but they weren't ready.

"I have to meet with them," he said, crying.

Prosecutors argue that Janklow made a conscious decision to speed and ignore the stop sign.

When questioned by a prosecutor, he acknowledged that he does speed and that he has run stop signs, but he said he would not speed through a blind intersection on purpose.

The defense has tried to establish that Janklow, a diabetic, was suffering the effects of low blood sugar before the crash.

Janklow testified that a tight schedule had kept him from eating, even though he knew the risk of taking his insulin and not eating.

"I just plain forgot," he said. "I've asked myself that 10 million times since this day."

He denied running a stop sign nearly a year ago at the same intersection and nearly hitting the truck of a woman who testified earlier in the trial. The woman said she didn't pursue charges against Janklow because he was governor at the time.

He also said he wakes up at night thinking about the August accident.

"I wake up and just sweat. You can't imagine what this is like," Janklow said. He said he has wished "a thousand times" that he had eaten before the wreck.

Janklow's lawyer introduced a bottle of the high-blood pressure drug Atenolol on Saturday and a prescription for it dated July 25.

Janklow has said he was taking the drug, which can hide the symptoms of low blood sugar, but stopped using it on his own sometime after the accident.

Hospital lists of his medication after the accident do not include Atenolol, and a doctor testified Saturday that he found no indication in Janklow's records he was on the drug the day of the crash.

The evidence drew the ire of deputy prosecutor Roger Ellyson, who accused defense lawyer Ed Evans of not sharing it earlier.

Evans wants to show that Janklow suffered the diabetic reaction but did not feel the symptoms because he was on the heart pill.

If convicted, the former four-term governor and only congressman from South Dakota could face up to 10 years in prison and a House ethics committee investigation.

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