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October 25, 2011 12:09 PM

Expert Testimony In Robert Sentencing Hearing

sioux falls, sd

Two witnesses have taken the stand in the second day of the Eric Robert sentencing hearing.

Robert has pleaded guilty to murder and faces the death penalty for killing South Dakota Correctional Officer Ron Johnson. A judge will decide his fate following this week’s hearings. Inmates Rodney Berget and Michael Joseph Nordman are also charged in Johnson’s death. 

Minnehaha County Coroner and Medical Examiner Dr. Kenneth Snell was the first to take the stand Tuesday for the prosecution to testify about the autopsy of Johnson.

Snell says Johnson had, among other injuries, broken fingers, lacerations and skull fractures on the back of his head and a broken neck. The doctor says the five areas of head injuries and the broken neck are consistent with being hit with a metal pipe.

Injuries on his hands are consistent with being defensive wounds. And while he’s determined the cause of death to be traumatic blunt force head injury that’s consistent with an assault, it may not have been immediately fatal.

A blood stain pattern analyst from Kansas also testified about the blood stains found on a metal pipe, Johnson’s uniform and clothing that belonged to inmates Robert and Berget. He concluded the stain patterns were consistent with Johnson’s injuries, that the pipe collected at the scene was used to make those injuries and that both Robert and Berget were present during the assault.

The court is in recess and is scheduled to return at 1:30 p.m.  KELOLAND News will resume streaming the hearing live on at that time.
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