12/22/2003 at 01:00 AM EST
U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow never denied his love for speed. The former four-term governor of South Dakota openly flouted the rules of the road, racking up a dozen violations and telling fellow citizens in his 1996 State of the State address, "For the first time since I can remember, I went a whole year without a speeding ticket, and so then the federal government goes ahead and abolishes speed limits!"
Janklow, 64, surely regrets those words. On Dec. 8, a jury in his hometown of Flandreau, S. Dak., found the congressman guilty of manslaughter for blowing through a stop sign at a rural intersection at 71 mph (16 mph above the posted speed limit) last summer and colliding with a motorcycle driven by Randy Scott. A 55-year-old farmer, Scott—who was thrown several hundred feet—died on the spot. Facing up to 11 years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 20, Janklow announced his resignation from Congress, ending a spectacular 30-year rise to the top of South Dakota politics.
Alternately weepy and defiant at his weeklong trial, Janklow admitted at one point that he had had nightmares about cars for weeks after the accident. "You can't imagine what it's like," he said. But jurors brushed aside the diabetic defendant's excuse that he had blacked out while driving after going without food for 18 hours. "We all came to the same conclusion," says foreman Jim Mitchell, 44. "He was responsible for Mr. Scott's death."
Scott's elderly mother, Marcella, says she is "satisfied" that justice has been done for her son, a divorced father of three from Hardwick, Minn. As for Janklow, the once-towering figure has remained uncharacteristically silent about his next move. "I don't know why he drives the way he drives," said prosecutor Roger Ellyson at the trial. "Is it arrogance that says my time is more important than your safety? We don't know."