The Minnehaha County State's Attorney said the execution of Eric Robert was done precisely to the letter of the law. Aaron McGowan was a witness to the lethal injection. On the day Robert was set to die, McGowan was thinking about life.
"Went home and spent a little time with my kids before I drove back to the penitentiary," McGowan said.
Not only did he witness the lethal injection, the Minnehaha County States Attorney said he saw a professional and meticulous process. He calls the one-drug method used for Robert effective, humane and done according to South Dakota law.
"Whether that's a victory for the law, I don't know. According to the laws on our books and the manner in which the process is to be fulfilled, it was done with great, exact care and could not have gone any better," McGowan said.
McGowan felt obligated as the State's Attorney to observe this process from beginning to end. He does not call it a pleasant experience, but wanted to witness the ins and outs of this outcome, so he better understands it for other cases that could result in the death penalty. One example includes the trial of James McVay, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for cutting the throat of 75-year-old Maybelle Schein. However, one cannot easily determine if Robert's execution and the one-drug method for the lethal injection will affect other cases.
"Everything is so fact specific in cases of this magnitude, it's hard to imagine that this would have a specific impact on any future cases," McGowan said.
According to McGowan, the important impact could be to other inmates who are serving life sentences.
"Here we had defendants with nothing left to lose that committed a very heinous crime as an attempt to escape. So, I think you have to send a message to individuals who are serving a similar sentence that there are additional consequences and yes, you do have something to lose," McGowan said.