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Eric Robert Sentence: Death Penalty

October 27, 2011, 11:52 AM

Eric Robert Sentence: Death Penalty
Eric Robert

SIOUX FALLS, SD - South Dakota Penitentiary inmate Eric Robert was given the death penalty for his role in the killing of corrections officer Ron Johnson.

Judge Brad Zell announced his sentence against Robert Thursday morning following three days of testimony in a sentencing hearing.  Zell read his decision, which was 11-pages long.

In September, Robert pleaded guilty to murdering Johnson during an escape attempt from the South Dakota Penitentiary, which happened on April 12, 2011. 49-year-old Robert waived his right to a jury trial and asked Zell to give him the death sentence.

Robert had been serving an 80-year-sentence on a kidnapping conviction when he attempted to escape with another inmate.

There were three inmates sentenced to death before Zell gave Robert the same sentence Thursday.

That includes Donald Moeller who was convicted in the 1990 murder and rape of nine-year-old Becky O'Connell. Charles Rhines was convicted in the 1992 torture and murder of Donnivan Schaefer during a burglary of a Rapid City donut shop. And Briley Piper is on death row for the 2000 killing of Chester Allen Poage.

Elijah Page was executed in 2007 for his role in the killing of Poage. Page was the 16th person to be executed in South Dakota, dating back to the Dakota Territory days of 1877. Page was given lethal injection. One person was electrocuted, and prior to that, all South dakota executions were carried out by hanging.

KELOLAND News will have more on this developing story throughout the day. Get the latest on Midday in KELOLAND and watch for updates on

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