Sioux Falls, SD
Rodney Berget has three sisters and two brothers; one of those brothers was executed 12 years ago in Oklahoma for murder.
Those are just a few of the details that were revealed Wednesday during day three of Berget’s death-penalty hearing.
Berget is facing execution for killing South Dakota Correctional Officer Ron Johnson during an escape attempt last spring.
In an attempt to spare his life Berget's defense attorneys called three witnesses to the stand Wednesday to talk about the inmate's past.
Mary Baker, a paralegal in the Minnehaha County Public Defender's Office, has talked with Berget nearly 50 times, and said his troubles started at an early age.
"I guess the tragedy there probably would be his parents divorced when he was eight-year-old and he was placed with his mother and his father was very abusive," Baker said.
Berget was later placed with his abusive father. That's when Baker says Berget started having run-ins with the law.
Baker also said Berget was troubled when his brother, Roger, was executed in 2000. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley:
Would it be fair to say that he was executed by the state of Oklahoma for a murder he committed? Baker
: That is correct.
Baker testified that in her discussions with the convicted killer he has showed remorse for his previous crimes. That is something that Attorney General Marty Jackley challenged her on. Jackley:
You had indicated that he indicated some remorse toward the Johnson family, is that fair? Baker:
And of course he's pled guilty, so I will ask you the same realm of questions. To your knowledge has he ever written an apology letter to the widow of Officer Johnson? Baker:
Has he ever written an apology letter to the daughter of Officer Johnson. Baker:
Has he ever written an apology letter to the son of Officer Johnson. Baker:
Has he ever written an apology letter to the grandchildren of Officer Johnson. Baker:
Berget's attorneys are expected to call one more witness Thursday morning. Berget himself is also expected to make a statement before this case goes to Judge Brad Zell who will then decide if Rodney Berget will be sentenced to life in prison, or be executed for his crime.