SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Now that we have a time and date for Charles Rhine’s execution, what’s going to happen tomorrow? KELOLAND’s Don Jorgensen has a pretty good idea.
As a long time journalist at KELO-TV, he’s covered four executions in the state and was one of the witnesses for the last one almost one year ago for Rodney Berget.
The day of Rodney Berget’s execution turned out to be a long one due to several delays. He was sentenced to die by lethal injection for his role in killing correctional officer Ron RJ Johnson in a failed prison escape.
It was supposed to happen at 1:30 p.m., but Berget was still appealing his case to the U.S. Supreme Court in an 11th hour attempt to stay his execution.
Media had gathered outside the prison awaiting the news of his death and so had a handful of protestors.
Inside prison walls several witnesses, including Jorgensen, were taken to a holding area until further notice. Security was tight.
Hours had gone by as prison officials and the attorney general waited for the high court’s final decision.
Day turned to night before there was finally a decision. Six hours after the original time, Berget’s execution moved forward.
After his last meal, Berget was brought into this room strapped down on a gurney with IVs already administered.
This is how Jorgensen described it that night when he met with the media after Berget was executed for his crime.
“We were brought into the witness room at about 7:20 p.m., at 7:25 p.m. they opened the curtains, it was about a 3 x 3 window we were all looking through, Berget was laying on a table flat on his back staring at the ceiling already strapped in. Then at about 7:29 p.m. they asked him if he was going to say any final words, he thanked a few people for their support, that he loved them all, loved a few other people, at the very beginning, the very first thing he said when they asked him if he wanted to talk, he said ‘sorry for the delay, I got caught in traffic,” Jorgensen said.
After his final words, they administered the lethal injection.
“He took a couple of deep breaths, sounded like he groaned twice and shortly after that he kind of drifted off and you could hear him kind of snoring,” Jorgensen said.
The entire process took about 12 minutes. At 7:37 pm, Rodney Berget was pronounced dead.
Of course this could all change depending on what happens with Rhine’s appeals.