Capitol News Bureau

Killer Of Correctional Officer Faces Own Death Monday

PIERRE, S.D. - Rodney Berget should die.

That's what Gov. Dennis Daugaard thinks.

Berget faces execution for the April 2011 killing of state correctional officer Ronald "R.J." Johnson.

Fellow inmate Eric Robert was executed in 2012 for his role.

Penitentiary Warden Darin Young announced about an hour after the interview that Berget's execution now is scheduled for Monday, October 29, at 1:30 p.m. 

The governor talked to KELOLAND News Capitol Bureau reporter Bob Mercer earlier Friday morning.

The death sentence will be done by lethal injection.

"It's always a sobering thing to execute someone like this," Daugaard said. "Certainly we want to protect society from those who would do us harm and from people who are evil like this.

"But taking a life is not something one does lightly. The court's made its decision and it's my job as governor to carry out that sentence."

Daugaard said the court made the right decision.

"This man is someone who is a threat to society, even within prison walls.

"He had two life sentences that he was facing for kidnapping and attempted murder. He kidnapped a young woman at gunpoint, really put her through quite a lot.

"And then, in this escape attempt, (he) killed a prison guard and wrapped his head with cellophane and beat him to death with a lead pipe," Daugaard said.

Berget pleaded guilty in 2012. Then he appealed his sentence in 2016. He then changed his mind again and withdrew the appeal.

Berget would be the third inmate to be executed during the eight years Daugaard has been governor.

Donald Moeller was executed October 30, 2012, for the death of Becky O'Connell. She was nine years old when she was raped and murdered May 8, 1990.

State law says the warden shall request with at least two days of previous notice the attendance of sentencing Judge Bradley Zell, Attorney General Marty Jackley, Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead, representatives of the victim Johnson, at least one member of the news media and a number of reputable adults to be determined by the warden.

The supplier of the lethal drug or drugs will be kept confidential, according to state law, as will the person administering the lethal injection.

The warden also shall arrange for a person trained to pronounce death and members of the state Department of Corrections staff and law enforcement officers to perform the execution and maintain security.

Berget also can have up to five witnesses present, including legal counsel, clergy, relatives or friends.



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