FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Tuesday, October 21, 2014
CONTACT: Sara Rabern (605)773-3215
A.G. Jackley Seeks New Execution Date Following S.D. Supreme Court’s Denial of Rodney Berget’s Petition for Rehearing
PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that his office will seek a new execution date for Rodney Scott Berget after the South Dakota Supreme Court denied Berget’s petition for rehearing.
“Today, in consultation with South Dakota Department of Corrections officials, this office has requested that Rodney Berget’s execution be re-set for the week of May 3-9, 2015,” said Jackley. “Berget may seek to stay this date, but the State believes that due process has been satisfied and is requesting that the sentence be carried out in the interest of justice.”
On February 6, 2012, Berget was sentenced to death for the 2011 killing of Senior Corrections Officer Ron Johnson (RJ) during a failed attempt to escape from the Sioux Falls Penitentiary. Berget was serving a life sentence for attempted murder and an additional life sentence for raping a convenience store clerk.
In January of 2013, The South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed 11 issues, including the appropriateness of the death sentence for Berget’s crime. However, the Court reversed the original sentence because the admission of statements Berget made to a psychiatrist violated Berget’s right against self-incrimination and remanded the case to the trial court for a limited re-sentencing and the opportunity for Berget to call the psychiatrist as a witness. At the re-sentencing, Berget did not call the psychiatrist as a witness but sought to introduce alleged new evidence of his rekindled family relationships as mitigation against a new death sentence. The trial court denied Berget’s demand to introduce new evidence and again sentenced Berget to death by lethal injection.
Berget appealed from the trial court’s re-imposition of a death sentence claiming that the Court should have opened up the record to take his additional family evidence. The South Dakota Supreme Court rejected Berget’s appeal, citing the fact that Berget had a full opportunity to present all his desired mitigating evidence at his original sentencing. Berget petitioned the South Dakota Supreme Court to rehear his appeal, which the court denied in an order issued October 17, 2014.
The state’s motion to set a new execution date has been filed in the Minnehaha County court.