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October 15, 2012 05:53 PM

Johnson's Widow: Execution Brings Safety

sioux falls, sd

Eric Robert's execution is scheduled for 10 p.m. Monday night, just 18 months after he and inmate Rodney Berget killed Correctional Officer Ron ‘RJ’ Johnson during an escape attempt last year.

And while Robert will be put to death Monday for the crime, the wife of Officer Johnson doesn't want her husband's death to be forgotten.

RJ's wife, Lynette, along with her two children and their spouses plan to witness Robert's execution. And while it will never bring RJ back and, may not even bring complete closure for the family, Lynette says it can bring safety.

Robert's final moments have been meticulously planned and prepared, from his last meal, to the lethal injection, and the cell where he will spend his final days.

And while Lynette, believes Robert's punishment for killing her husband is just, in some respects it doesn't bring complete justice.

"He's going to lay there and from what I'm told take seven to ten minutes. He's just going to lay there and go to sleep. How long was the attack for Ron," Lynette said.

RJ was brutally beaten with a metal pipe by Robert and fellow inmate Rodney Berget. The two then put shrink wrap around his head, all in an attempt to escape.

Lynette believes RJ's fellow correctional officers who went to work in the days, weeks and months following the failed prison break need to be remembered. She hopes Robert's execution will help keep them safe.

"The focus has to stay on keeping our correctional officers throughout the state at all the facilities to keep them safe. My mission is that, that we have to move forward, things have to change," Johnson said.

But correctional officers across the country are remembering RJ too. Lynette just got back from a weekend trip to Las Vegas where RJ was honored and where a correctional officer from Massachusetts who was attacked gave her his personal medal of honor in honor of RJ.

"I know people don't mean to, but we do take for granted our law officers. Everyday they don't know what they're coming into. They don't know what they are going to get into and it's dangerous. Our correctional officers are behind the wall, they look at these people every day," Johnson said.

And while Johnson prepares to watch Robert be executed she says it’s her husband and those officers who need to remain in South Dakota's thoughts and prayers.

"My heart is broken and I'm here for Ron. I'm going to get through this for Ron. We all will," Johnson said.

RJ worked at the penitentiary for 23 years.

Lynette plans to make a statement in the training room at the penitentiary that has since been named in RJ’s honor following the execution.

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  • Sioux Falls, SD
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