by Jay Roe
Jon Auer goes free.
The 39-year old Brookings man accused of killing 67-year old James Schroeder in a head-on crash last September walked out of court a free man this afternoon.
State's Attorney Clyde Calhoon says Auer was examined by three separate psychiatric experts, each of whom independently concluded he was incapable of distinguishing right from wrong at the time of the accident.
Based on those expert opinions, Calhoon says he cannot proceed with prosecution of this case, as South Dakota law clearly states a person who is insane when committing a crime cannot be held criminally responsible for that crime.
Calhoon told Judge David Gienapp he was filing for dismissal of all counts against Auer. The judge ordered that Auer's psychiatric evaluations be sealed, and then dismissed Auer's bond. He had been free on a $50,000 bond.
Members of Schroeder's family were in the courtroom, wearing photographs of him hung about their necks. After the proceedings, they followed Auer out to the courthouse parking lot shouting at him. Auer was escorted through the parking lot by law enforcement.
Auer had been charged with first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault of a law enforcement officer, obstructing, two counts of simple assault, and reckless driving. He had pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to all counts.