User uShare Login | Register

Along with posting photos, videos, and stories, your uShare account lets you post Classified Ads, recipes on What's For Dinner, and Announcements.

16° View Weather Current Conditions Sioux Falls Change Location
Set Weather Options


TEMPERATURE LOCATION | Sioux Falls News & Weather, South Dakota News & Weather, Minnesota and Iowa News

[0] My Saved Articles
Find local businesses
on the KELO Pages!


Robert Doesn't Want Jury Involved

October 24, 2011, 9:53 PM by Peggy Moyer

Robert Doesn't Want Jury Involved
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Eric Robert, a confessed killer, has asked to have a judge decide whether he should spend the rest of his life in prison or receive the death penalty for his role in killing corrections officer Ron Johnson last April.

"A defendant has the right to waive a jury trial and ask the judge to decide. It happens very, very infrequently," former Minnehaha County State's Attorney Dave Nelson said. 

Nelson was the prosecuting attorney in 2007 when Minnehaha County tried its last capital murder case against Daphne Wright. As a former state's attorney, he says Robert's decision to allow Judge Brad Zell to be the lone decision maker of his fate is uncommon.

"So the judge is setting into the shoes of the jury and the judge will be the only one making the decision that typically would be reserved for twelve jurors," Nelson said. 

Robert's decision to have a judge decide how he should be punished for murder simplifies the process for the state and eliminates the need for jury selection. However, Nelson says it becomes more difficult for the presiding judge.

"I would suspect that the stress would be identical to the stress experienced by any one of twelve jurors. I think that any juror and fact finder who sits on a death penalty case clearly is undertaking a very sobering responsibility," Nelson said.

Despite Robert's admission to killing Johnson during the escape attempt at the state penitentiary, Nelson says the state still needs to prove Robert is guilty of committing at least one of nine aggravating circumstances in order to consider the death penalty.

"One of those aggravating circumstances, for example, is the murder of a law enforcement officer or correctional officer who is engaged in the performance of his duties. One of the other aggravating circumstances is that the crime was committed to facilitate the escape or attempted escape from a place of lawful confinement. Both of those (aggravating) circumstances would seem to be present in this case," Nelson said.

Nelson says the third element in this case is Robert himself. But as the defendant, he is not required to testify. As for whether he will, only time will tell.

The last person to be executed in South Dakota was Elijah Page for the 2000 murder of Chester Allen Poage of Spearfish.

Previous Story

Next Story





You may also like

Roslyn Man Arrested In Shooting

11/21/2015 4:46 PM

A Roslyn, South Dakota man is accused of trying to kill another man overnight.

Full Story
Ronald Neels Sentenced To 75 Years In Prison

11/23/2015 5:59 PM

For more than a decade, nobody knew Ronald Neels was sexually abusing a victim inside his home near Garretson. The victim never said anything about th...

Full Story | Watch
Sioux Falls Issues Snow Alert

11/20/2015 11:00 AM

The City of Sioux Falls has declared a snow alert after heavy snow across the city Friday.

Full Story
Harrisburg High School Wins $100,000

11/25/2015 9:01 AM

Students at Harrisburg High School are celebrating Wednesday morning.

Full Story
Sioux Falls Police Pursuit Leads To Damaged Squad Cars

11/21/2015 7:20 AM

Police arrested a suspect who led officers on an early morning pursuit that damaged squad cars involved in the chase.

Full Story