It’s has been a long, drawn out case spanning seven years for Rodney Berget and the family of RJ Johnson.
In 2003, Berget was convicted of attempted murder in Lawrence County and kidnapping in Meade County. He received a life sentence for each conviction.
Then on the morning of April 12, 2011, Berget and Eric Robert attempted to escape from the penitentiary. During that attempt, they killed Correctional Officer Ron RJ Johnson.
Seven months later, Berget pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.
In February 2012, the circuit court sentenced Berget to death. He appealed that decision but the South Dakota Supreme Court upheld it.
He appealed again saying the court improperly used statements from a psychological evaluation. The state Supreme Court agreed, saying Berget should get a new sentencing hearing.
However, by 2014, justices once again upheld the death penalty. Berget then went to the U.S. Supreme Court, however in 2015, justices denied that request.
By 2016, Berget said he wanted to stop an appeal that was preventing him from being put to death. That prompted a Lincoln County judge to ask whether Berget had an intellectual disability.
A ruling this February by a Minnehaha County judge said Berget could be legally executed, leading to Wednesday’s announcement.