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Robert's Former Victim Takes Stand

October 25, 2011, 5:58 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Robert's Former Victim Takes Stand
SIOUX FALLS, SD - He killed a corrections officer in an attempted escape at the South Dakota penitentiary this spring; now prosecutors are calling Eric Robert's former victims to the witness stand to talk about his past.

Tuesday was day two of his sentencing hearing, which is being held so that Judge Brad Zell can decide if Robert will be executed for the death of correctional officer Ron Johnson.

Attorney General Marty Jackley finished presenting the aggravating circumstances of the case Tuesday morning, showing how severe the murder of Johnson was.

Now, they've moved on to the second area they must present in a capital punishment hearing, which is the prior criminal history of Robert. Taking the stand Tuesday afternoon was the woman Robert shoved into a trunk in Meade County back in 2005.

When Robert tried to break out of the South Dakota Penitentiary in April, he was serving an 80-year sentence for a kidnapping he pleaded guilty to in 2005.

"I took the key and I went to the trunk with him and I opened up the trunk," Robert's former victim, who will not be identified, said.

In July 2005 Robert had pulled over the 18-year-old woman around three in the morning on her way home from work. Robert was posing as a police officer and had flashing headlights installed on his vehicle. He performed field sobriety tests on her and then searched her car.  That's when he had her open the trunk.

"As I went to reach up to close the trunk, he lifted me up in a cradle position and proceeded to place me in my trunk," the victim testified.

But the victim had a cell phone and was able to call 911 while Robert drove the car.

"I just got really frantic and started telling him that the vehicle was moving and was trying to describe what I was feeling movement-wise on the ground, bumps, anything," she testified.

After the Meade County Sheriff's Office arrested Robert, they searched the truck he had been driving that night. Inside, they found a five-foot rope, a pornographic magazine, a baseball bat and a shovel.

But Robert's attorney, Mark Kadi, questioned Meade County investigator Ronald White on Tuesday and argued that Robert never hurt the victim during the crime.

Kadi: She did not say she was hit and thrown in the trunk correct?
White: Correct.
Kadi: She did not say she was hit and knocked out and put in the trunk correct?
White: Correct.
Kadi: She did not say she was hit, tied up, and knocked out and put in the trunk correct?
White: Correct. 
Kadi: She indicated to you she was not struck at all, correct?
White: Correct.

Robert's former live-in girlfriend from Wisconsin also took the stand Tuesday and said Robert raped her and abused her while they were living together.

Robert's Department of Corrections file was also submitted to the court for review. He entered the corrections system on January 3, 2006, and his file is 903 pages long.

Prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case Wednesday, and then it's up to Robert to decide if he wants to say anything.

You can continue to watch it on KELOLAND.com.  Live coverage will begin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and you can also follow along with Twitter updates from the courtroom.

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