State Seeks Death Penalty for the Murder of Penitentiary Officer
PIERRE, S.D – Attorney General Marty J. Jackley announces that the State of South Dakota has filed its Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty for the murder of Corrections Officer Ronald Johnson. The Notice requests a Presentence Hearing before a trial jury to present evidence and seek a jury recommendation of a sentence of death for each of the following death eligible aggravating circumstances:
1. The offense of murder was committed by Defendant Rodney Scott Berget who has both a prior conviction for a qualifying Class A felony (Attempted Murder – 1st Degree), and also a felony conviction for a qualifying crime of violence (Kidnapping);
The offense of murder was committed by Defendant Eric Donald Robert who has a prior felony conviction for a qualifying crime of violence (Kidnapping) (SDCL 23A-27A-1(1));
2. That the offense was outrageously and wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved torture, depravity of mind, or an aggravated battery to the victim, Ronald Johnson (SDCL 23A-27A-1(6));
3. That Defendants committed the offense against South Dakota Penitentiary Officer Ronald Johnson, an employee of a corrections institution, while said officer was engaged in the performance of his official duties (SDCL 23A-27A-1(7));
4. That the offense was committed by the Defendants who were in, or who had escaped from the lawful custody of a law enforcement officer or place of lawful confinement. (SDCL 23A-27A-1(8)); and
5. That the offense was committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing custody in a place of lawful confinement of the Defendant or another (SDCL 23A-27A-1(9)).
Berget and Robert are presumed innocent until such time as proven guilty.