SIOUX FALLS, SD -
When Eric Robert receives the lethal injection, he'll be getting the only thing that he says would prevent him from killing again. Robert made shocking and sometimes chilling comments while in court last October.
"I deserve to die. Mrs. Johnson said it best. I'm a coward. I killed her husband," Robert said in court on October 26, 2011.
Robert not only confessed to the brutal murder of Correctional Officer Ronald Johnson, but also told Judge Brad Zell that the murder was one step in a plot to break free of the prison.
"I stole Ron Johnson's clothes. I stole them so I could escape from prison. In his clothes was his wallet and money. I intended on taking his vehicle so I could flee the state," Robert said.
Robert and fellow inmate Rodney Berget both pleaded guilty to the crime. Robert says the people who stood in the way of freedom weren't people in his mind, just obstacles in his war to escape. He admitted more victims were likely if he got his hands on a gun.
"I would have shot that weapon until it was empty. I was a hunter so I can hit the target. I would have killed a lot of people that day," Robert said.
Robert didn't fight the case in court and hasn't fought it since, other than the mandatory appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court. He even downplayed talk about his past.
"To be honest with you, the good acts that I did in my life were not mentioned because they're irrelevant to these proceedings, and that person that did good no longer exists," Robert said.
In the end, Robert said mercy was not what he expected from a court and death was the only appropriate sentence.
"Lethal injection is the only way to prevent me from killing again in the future," Robert said.
"Those are the findings. That is the verdict of this court. May God have mercy on your soul Mr. Robert," Judge Zell said on October 27, 2011.
That sentence will be carried out behind the same walls where Robert committed his final crime.
Rodney Berget's mandatory appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court is yet to be ruled on. A third inmate, Michael Nordman received a life sentence for supplying the metal pipe and shrink wrap used in the murder.
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