FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Thursday, August 14, 2014
CONTACT: Sara Rabern (605) 773-3215
SOUTH DAKOTA SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS BERGET’S DEATH SENTENCE
PIERRE, S.D - Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of Rodney Scott Berget.
“The heinousness of the crime, as well as Berget’s extensive criminal history, hopeless chance of rehabilitation and multiple attempts of escape leave no alternative but to protect the public through imposition of the death penalty,” said Jackley. “Our thoughts remain with Officer Johnson’s family and extended family at the Department of Corrections.” “It is my intent as Attorney General to request our state Court for an execution date.”
In rejecting Berget’s argument that he was entitled to present new evidence at his resentencing hearing, and to have a new judge appointed to his case, the South Dakota Supreme Court stated that “[t]he State has proven the aggravating evidence against Berget is overwhelming beyond a reasonable doubt, thereby negating any claim of constitutional error.”
The South Dakota Supreme Court is also obligated to review each death sentence imposed in the State of South Dakota. The Court affirmed the lower court’s decision, finding that Berget’s death sentence “is not excessive or disproportionate in relation to similar cases where the death penalty was imposed” given the suffering endured by Corrections Officer Ron Johnson.