Rodney Berget’s last words were “I love you and I’ll meet you out there,” according to the three media witnesses.
KELOLAND’s Don Jorgensen was a media witness; he noticed one thing was absent from Berget’s last statement.
“I think the only thing that caught me off guard, he was given the chance to say something for his last words and he never did apologize to the family,” Jorgensen said.
Berget began his final words at 7:29 p.m. He made a joke at the beginning, saying “Sorry for the delay; I got caught in traffic.” Presumably he was referencing the more than six-hour delay due to a motion request considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The media witnesses said he was very soft spoken and took a couple of deep breaths. Jorgensen said he appeared to groan twice.
The wife of correctional officer Ronald ‘RJ’ Johnson held Attorney General Marty Jackley’s hand as she gave her statement following Rodney Berget execution.
Lynette Johnson thanked the members of the legal team who worked with the family throughout the case.
She says Berget’s death was peaceful and sterile, particularly compared to what her husband went through in the attack.
“Please don’t feel bad for Berget or Robert,” Lynette Johnson said.
“Today was about choices.” Those are the first words spoken by Ronald ‘RJ’ Johnson’s daughter after witnessing the execution of Rodney Berget.
She then went on to detail her memories of the day her dad was attacked while at work at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
Rodney Berget was pronounced dead at 7:37 p.m. The South Dakota Department of Corrections spokesperson Michael Winder outlined the timeline of events leading up to Berget’s death.
Berget was removed from the holding cell at 6:57 p.m. At 7:05 p.m., the IV was started with the IV on the left arm started at 7:07 a.m. Staff was cleared to proceed with the execution at 7:24 p.m. and the injection started at 7:25 p.m.
Berget was declared dead as of 7:37 p.m. and the curtains to the room closed at 7:38 p.m.
Following a more than six hour delay, the execution of inmate Rodney Berget took place Monday evening.
Berget was executed at the State Penitentiary for the murder of correctional officer Ronald “RJ” Johnson during a botched escape attempt in 2011. The state executed another inmate who was part of the crime, Eric Robert, in 2012.
It was the state of South Dakota’s 19th execution, and the fourth time the Department of Corrections used lethal injunction.
The state is not saying what specific injection drug is going to be used.
Witnesses will address the media to share details about the execution process. We’ll carry that live on KELO-TV and KELOLAND.com.