CBS/AP October 29, 2018, 10:05 PM South Dakota executes man who killed prison guard in failed escape
South Dakota executed a 56-year-old inmate for the killing of a prison guard in a failed escape seven years ago. Rodney Berget was killed by lethal injection Monday for the 2011 killing of Ronald "R.J." Johnson.
"Today was about choices," said Johnson's daughter after the execution, according to CBS Sioux Falls affiliate KELO-TV. She also detailed her memories of the day her dad was attacked while at work at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and wrapped his head in plastic before taking his uniform in their escape attempt. Robert was executed in October 2012. South Dakota's last execution was later that month.
Johnson's wife, Lynette Johnson, thanked the members of the legal team who worked with the family throughout the case, KELO-TV reports.
She says Berget's death was peaceful and sterile, particularly compared to what her husband went through in the attack.
"Please don't feel bad for Berget or Robert," Lynette Johnson said.
Berget's mental status and death penalty eligibility played a role in court delays. He eventually dropped appeals.
Berget wrote to a judge saying he thought the death penalty would be overturned and that he couldn't imagine spending "another 30 years in a cage doing a life sentence."
Earlier Monday, the Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution of a South Dakota man who killed a prison guard in a failed 2011 escape attempt.
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said the high court denied a request Monday from attorney Juliet Yackel to stay Berget's execution; it had been delayed for more than five hours.
The state Supreme Court earlier denied a motion from Yackel arguing that Berget lacks the intellectual capacity to receive capital punishment. Berget asked that court to dismiss Yackel's petition.