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Vehicular homicide charges in dispute in Pickstown crash

Ronald Fisher, foreground, walks past his attorney Tim Whalen after a court appearance Monday at the courthouse in Lake Andes. Fischer, of Lake Andes, is accused of driving drunk and killing two pedestrians in Pickstown. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

LAKE ANDES -- The attorney for a man accused of driving drunk and killing two pedestrians in a Pickstown parking lot wants the vehicular homicide charges against his client dismissed.

Ronald Fischer's attorney, Tim Whalen, of Lake Andes, said Monday he plans to make a motion to dismiss the two vehicular homicide charges for the deaths of Robert Klumb and Maegen Spindler. Other charges, including manslaughter, would remain.

Whalen said in court Monday he plans to make a motion to suppress evidence and a motion for dismissal on the vehicular homicide charges. Afterward, in an interview, he declined to elaborate on either motion.

"I don't want you to know before the state knows why," Whalen told The Daily Republic over the phone.

Fischer, 29, of Lake Andes, is currently charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, each of which carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison, a $30,000 fine or both. He is also charged with two counts of manslaughter in the first degree, which each carry a maximum punishment of life in prison, a $50,000 fine or both. Additional misdemeanor charges include driving under the influence, possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana, and ingesting an intoxicant other than alcohol.

Fischer is accused of driving drunk in July and running a stop sign in Pickstown. The vehicle ran into and killed Robert Klumb, of Pierre, and Maegen Spindler, of Cazenovia, N.Y. The two were on foot in a hotel parking lot when the accident occurred, and they died at the scene. Both were working in the area for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

During Monday's motions hearing, Judge Bruce Anderson said Whalen may spend up to $5,000 to hire a private investigator for the defense.

Anderson also granted Whalen's motion to seek experts, including an auto mechanic and an accident reconstructionist. Whalen said he did not have estimates on the costs yet, but would have those by October.

"I will come back to the court with credentials and a dollar amount," Whalen said.

Anderson set a hearing for October. During that hearing, Anderson will set a limit on how much Whalen can spend on experts and determine whether they're qualified.